Wednesday, May 4th, 2016 09:50 pm
Very good piece by Andrew Hickey on why we can't take having good things for granted.

http://mindlessones.com/2016/05/04/howl/
Wednesday, May 4th, 2016 11:00 am
Wednesday, May 4th, 2016 08:25 am
Recently I was having a conversation in which the subject of Rolf Harris came up. Guy I was talking to launched into a rant about how he thought it was dodgy that nobody had mentioned problems at the time.
If it was for real surely, he said, somebody would have spoken up.

He didn't know me well enough to know that I was abused as a child, so he missed my first attempt to indicate distress.
It was hard to get my breath, let alone form words.
I held up a hand, barely, like an unconfident schoolchild who isn't sure of the answer, and the third time I said his name he stopped and looked at me and realised that something was wrong.
Again, words were troublesome, but I had enough space in his silence to put a few together "Give me a minute. Then I'll tell you why."


There are so many reasons.

1) I was ten. In the days before sex education I didn't have the words or the concept to actually describe or explain anything that was happening.
I get pretty angry about people saying that sex education 'destroys children's innocence'. That's entirely about adult discomfort, and not at all about children. Knowledge is power.

2) I wasn't aware that refusing an instruction given to me by an adult was an option.
Good children, and especially good girls, are supposed to do what they're told. In childhood there's a whole bunch of 'because I said so that's why' and 'it's for your own good'. Innoculations and the dentist hurt, so the mere fact of a thing being unpleasant doesn't offer any indication that a child has a right to complain.
I remember the first time there was a news report on the formation of (I think) Childline. I was 20. That was the first time I'd heard that anyone would regard what happened to me as something that was morally wrong. I remember the white hot fury that nobody had told me that.
Nobody had told me.
I went out for a walk, and freaked my flatmates out completely because it was way past 1am when I felt able to come back and they were on the point of calling the police.

3) Victims get the blame.
Look at what happens even now if somebody complains of abuse.
Even if there's supporting evidence somebody will claim that they're 'exaggerating' or that they must have consented really or done something to make it their own fault.
Even the current pope, who is about a million times less evil than his predecessor, is still claiming that tiny children provoked or invited the abuse they suffered at the hands of adult males in positions of power over them.
Abusers aren't stupid. They mostly don't do this stuff in front of independent witnesses. Almost all complaints of abuse will boil down to one person's word against another, and abusers have both power and a vested interest in personally discrediting anyone who reports any abuse.

4) Nothing would be done.
It's incredibly recent that the police now keep reports of abuse on file in case other reports on the same person come in.
They used to just be thrown away because they weren't sufficient on their own to justify a prosecution.
Nowadays it's still unlikely that an abuser will face justice. Even a decade ago it was practically impossible that they would.
Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016 10:46 pm
IMG_20160115_134859143_HDR
Evening all, hope your Bank Holiday was pleasant! I spent mine looking at my local supply of anatomically incorrect dinosaurs in Crystal Palace Park.

This week's featured article is for Dexter Burger in Purley, home to interesting veggie burgers with a high rating on the all-important Bun Structural Integrity scale.

We've got new pages for Lamberts in Balham, a restaurant specialising in seasonal British produce, and Tandoori Naan And Chapati, a bakery in Walworth with a seemingly slapdash attitude to food hygiene. I think I'd rather go to Lamberts, myself.

There are Vietnamese food updates in the form of Dat Cang Supermarket and Mama Pho, both in Deptford. Also updated following a visit is vegan-friendly creperie Senzala, over in sunny Brixton.

Closures to report: the Breadroom bakery in Brixton has literally ended up in Valhalla, while the Cineworld Hammersmith is to be demolished. I cannot confirm or deny that the last film to be shown in this (admittedly rather run-down) Art Deco building was Kung Fu Panda 3.
Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016 02:38 pm
Just over three years ago I posted this. Roz has now gone to join his mum. They'd better have some decent ale up there or there'll be hell to pay.

I'm going to be a bit fragile for a while, guys, and if you know my dad, don't say anything because he's not that kind of guy, but if you see him in the pub buy him a pint, yeah?
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Monday, May 2nd, 2016 06:59 pm
"100 MUST-READ SCI-FI FANTASY NOVELS BY FEMALE AUTHORS" by Nikki Steele, who writes, "Do note that I’ve only listed the first book in any given series."

I think this is a very good list. I have bolded the ones I've read, check-marked the ones I own but haven't read yet, and starred the ones I especially liked. I'm feeling especially hard to please when it comes to fiction these days, and I want to reflect that, so I didn't give out very many stars. I don't mean to suggest the ones I didn't give a star to are bad, just that they didn't get me super-excited.

If you've read any of these authors, I want to hear what you liked by them!

1. Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce

2. The Alchemy of Stone by Ekaterina Sedia

*3. Among Others by Jo Walton

*4. Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie


√5. Ancient, Ancient by Kiini Ibura Salaam

√6. The Antelope Wife by Louise Erdrich

7. Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey

8. Ash by Malinda Lo

9. Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb

10. The Pyramid Waltz by Barbara Wright

11. Biting the Sun by Tanith Lee

12. The Blazing World by Margaret Cavendish

*13. The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter

√14. Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

15. Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson

16. Cast in Shadow by Michelle Sagara

√17. China Mountain Zhang by Maureen F. McHugh

18. Chorus of Mushrooms by Hiromi Goto

19. Cinder by Marissa Meyer

20. The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart

21. The Darkangel by Meredith Ann Pierce

22. Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

23. Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop

24. Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier

25. Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris (Didn't finish the series.)

√26. Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente

27. The Devil’s Arithmetic by Jane Yolen

28. The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin (Probably her most "important" book but not the one I would have picked as her best or my favorite.)

29. Doomsday Book by Connie Willis

30. Dragon Sword and Wind Child by Noriko Ogiwara

31. Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey

32. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

33. The Etched City by K.J. Bishop

34. The Female Man by Joanna Russ

35. Flesh and Spirit by Carol Berg

36. The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A. McKillip (Tried, bounced)

37. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

38. The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

39. Graceling by Kristin Cashore

40. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

*41. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling


42. The Hearing Trumpet by Leonora Carrington

*43. Her Smoke Rose Up Forever by James Tiptree Jr.

*44. Hild by Nicola Griffith

45. His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik


46. The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende

47. The House on the Lagoon by Rosario Ferré

48. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

49. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

50. Ink by Sabrina Vourvoulias

51. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

52. The Island of Eternal Love by Daína Chaviano

53. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

54. Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear

*55. The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin (This duology is excellent but I liked the Inheritance series better.)

56. Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey

57. Luck in the Shadows by Lynn Flewelling

√58. Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link

59. The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley

*60. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

61. Moving the Mountain by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

62. Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi

63. My Christina & Other Stories by Mercè Rodoreda

64. My Soul to Keep by Tananarive Due (Haven't read this one. I liked Joplin's Ghost though.)

65. Native Tongue by Suzette Haden Elgin

66. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

67. Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

68. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

69. The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

*70. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater (Really like this series.)

71. The Red by Linda Nagata

√72. Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord

*73. Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire (Really like this series.)

74. Salt Fish Girl by Larissa Lai

75. The Second Mango by Shira Glassman

76. Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold (Have read the whole series.)

77. Shikasta by Doris Lessing

78. The Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge

79. Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh (Started, bounced)

80. So Far from God by Ana Castillo

√81. Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho

*82. Soulless by Gail Carriger (Really like this series.)

83. The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

84. The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon


85. Spirits of the Ordinary by Kathleen Alcala

86. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

87. A Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar (Reading now)

88. Sunshine by Robin McKinley (Have read other good stuff by her.)

89. Swamplandia! by Karen Russell

*90. Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner

91. The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

92. Valor’s Choice by Tanya Huff

93. War for the Oaks by Emma Bull

94. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

√95. Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

96. Wicked As They Come by Delilah S. Dawson

97. Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy

98. The Woman Who Thought She Was a Planet and Other Stories by Vandana Singh (I've probably read some of the stories in here.)

99. The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh

100. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
Monday, May 2nd, 2016 12:51 pm
Sooner or later, everything leaks out and animals get to hear what others think about them.


(Apologies for missing two weekends in a row; today is technically still a weekend for me.)

[This post is part of my Watership Down read through. You are welcome to join in at any time; please read my introduction post first.]

Monday, May 2nd, 2016 10:56 am
I received Dreamwidth points because I was using the domain forwarding feature and it's, for perfectly good reason, no longer available - and because I have a seed account, they couldn't just extend my subscription. But I don't think I have ever used points except to gift them to people either, so that's what I'm doing with these ones too.

If you are in need of DW points, or you know someone who is, please leave a (screened) comment here telling me who and as much as you feel comfortable saying about why ("I'm broke and really value DW's paid features" is a perfectly good reason, as is "They would just make me happy"!), and next Monday, I'll divide up the points between people who can use them better than me. I can't promise to give points to everyone, as I want to give enough to each person that they'll be useful, but I will do my best.
Monday, May 2nd, 2016 11:00 am
Sunday, May 1st, 2016 07:41 pm
There is nothing I want to say right now other than the following:

AAAAARGH IT ITCHES! NO IT REALLY ITCHES! YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND QUITE HOW MUCH IT ITCHES AND I CAN'T SCRATCH IT BECAUSE IF I DO THE INK MIGHT BLEED OUT BUT OH MY SWEET CTHULHU IT ITCHES. I CAN'T EVEN SOAK IT IN THE BATH FOR ANOTHER NINE DAYS BECAUSE YOU CAN'T SOAK A NEW TATTOO! ARGH ARGH ARGH!

Thank you for you concern in this matter.

TMI under the cut )

So yeah. ARRRRRGH IT ITCHES.
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Sunday, May 1st, 2016 11:00 am
Saturday, April 30th, 2016 09:32 pm
Mine, all mine
Keiki and "his" box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

Thanks to him, I have discovered that if you manage to prise the leftover milk from a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch out of your possessive baby's fingers and add it to your morning cup of filter coffee, you can create a pumpkin spice latte.
Saturday, April 30th, 2016 11:00 am
Friday, April 29th, 2016 11:31 am
You know that three-legged stool model where if possible it’s best to only make major changes in one of the legs of home, relationship, and work at any given time? I seem to be doing remarkably well right now, considering that I’m encountering a certain amount of complicatedness in all three.

The relationship stuff is simplest - [livejournal.com profile] obandsoller and I are rock solid, before anyone worries; but for a little while I let myself get my hopes up about a possible something with someone else, and then that didn’t pan out (yes, that’s the sad thing I referred to in the last post). I’m okay, and have bounced back remarkably quickly, but it’s been an undercurrent of uncertainty and anxiety as well as hopefulness for the last couple of months, which takes energy.

House stuff is hard work and infuriating. We found a place, and we knew that our maximum price was higher than the vendor’s minimum, so we were confident that we’d reach an agreement, but then the vendor got cold feet and it fell through. And then we found another place and had an offer accepted and got pretty excited, and now that’s been stalled for weeks and we think isn’t going to happen. And then we found another place and made an offer way above the asking price but were still outbid… And it’s getting a bit tiring, not knowing when it’s all going to be sorted out. I mean, we’ll find somewhere eventually, and once we get to the other side we’ll have a shiny new house and we’ll never have to move again, and it’ll be great. But still, it’s a bit tiring.

A similar undercurrent of uncertainty remains at work. My contract ends in a few weeks, at which point I’m having some surgery and will definitely be taking a bit of time off to recover, but I’m still not sure what I’ll be doing afterwards. My client has indicated that he’d like me to come back in some capacity, but so far has been rather unforthcoming on the details, and although there’s nothing terrible per se about my role at the moment, I’m getting quite bored. There are definitely more interesting projects that I think I could take on, but it remains to be seen whether my vision and my client’s are in concert, and the longer I go without knowing, the less engaged I feel, and the more inclined to just go “Sod it, time to move on”.

But as I indicated at the start, despite having a non-trivial amount of stress and uncertainty to manage, I seem to be bearing up extremely well. I know how lucky I am, being in a position to buy a house in London at all, and having the amount of freedom of choice about where and how I work that I have, and knowing that whatever else happens in my love life I’ve still got this incredible, affirming, enriching partnership with Ramesh. But often knowing that on paper doesn’t stop stressful things from being incredibly draining and clouding out that sense of fortune and gratitude, and that doesn’t seem to be happening this time around.
Friday, April 29th, 2016 11:00 am
Friday, April 29th, 2016 04:23 am
Keiki with Grandma & Grandpa
Grandma and Grandpa teach Keiki how to make a grass blade whistle.

The wild Keiki in the grass
Behold the wild Keiki in the grass.

It has taken three days of my six-day trip here to sort out my parents' internet connection, which is a bit longer than I'd hoped to spend on it. The important thing is that it seems to be working now. There was an intermittent problem which took a while - and multiple calls to service provider & visits by technicians - to fix. They ended up replacing all of the coax cable ends and connectors from the pole to the wall socket in house and that did the trick. The last tech also found a problem with the incoming signal from the roadside, which has presumably been affecting all my parents' elderly neighbours whether they knew it or not, so that should get fixed as well. Probably after I leave, which is non-ideal, but it will hopefully end up helping to vindicate the World's Most Expensive Tech Support Trip.

Last night I made the mistake of going to bed at 21:30, which meant I was wide awake at 04:30. It's going to take a lot of cups of tea to keep me awake for another 2.5 hours. I'd better get started on that.

ETA: Forgot to tell the best part of the story so far, which is the bit where my parents meticulously recorded my flight details on their wall calendar...on the wrong day. This resulted in me popping out from baggage claim after my (delayed) 9.5 hour flight and an hour's slog through immigration/border control with my suitcase and a delirious baby in a pushchair and not finding my father, who is usually strolling up and down the Arrivals hall.

I got out my mobile and dialed my parents. Dad answered after three rings. "Hello?"
"Hi Dad, it's me. Where are you?"
"I'm here!"
"Okay, where?"
"What?"
"Where, specifically, are you? Are you in Arrivals, or the car park, or outside?"
There is a long and ominous pause.
"I'm at home. Aren't you arriving tomorrow?"
"...No, Dad, I'm in the airport."

NB: My parents live over an hour's drive from the nearest international airport. That was an expensive taxi ride.

I'm sure this memory will be funny eventually. Like in five years or so.
Thursday, April 28th, 2016 12:48 pm
The film of this came out in December 1995. I left school in September 95 and got my GCSEs in 93. The thing is I am dead set certain that Dr Liddle showed us this on video when we were doing GCSE English. Now, I know that the film is based on a stage production, and that sometimes films of stage productions are made available for use in schools - does anyone know if that happened with this? Because there are two other explanations:

1, I've gone nuts
2, Dr Liddle is/was/will be a time traveller

ETA: googling for my old English teacher's name turns up no English teacher, but a professor of theoretical astrophysics who looks sort of a bit like Doctor Liddle but many years younger. God DAMN him, he IS a time traveller!
Thursday, April 28th, 2016 11:00 am
Wednesday, April 27th, 2016 04:11 pm
Despite the attraction of the action from The Crucible, with the ever fascinating mix of physics and mind sport, two series have ended recently and as they made up about 2/3 of the TV drama watching, I'm missing them both.

American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson was very good, despite John Travolta's "mesmerizingly bad performance from the eyebrows down." It's fiction - amongst other things, you can't cut an eight month trial down to under three hours and claim it's completely accurate - and didn't bother with several important aspects, particularly Ron Brown. It also failed to say why LAPD detective Fuhrman had to 'take the fifth' when asked if he had planted any evidence: having done so in relation to his perjury about using racist language, he had to do it to everything in relation to the case or he could have been forced to answer questions about any aspect of it.

But it got so much about how someone so 'obviously' guilty was acquitted. One of the other things I liked about it is how few characters came out of it well: the main exception being the arc of Robert Kardashian, from friend of Nicole and OJ to going 'what have I done?' for his part in the acquittal as he realised the truth.

Speaking of morally dubious lawyers, Better Call Saul finished its second series. (If you're watching on the US broadcast schedule, anyway.) As with the first series, as well as being excellent in its own right, it brilliantly works despite the problem of prequels. Here, we know that at least four characters must survive, due to their appearance in the 'later' Breaking Bad, but the 'how' remains a fascinating mystery and the journey is great to watch.