Maybe he would be diluted in a larger group? There were only four of us. And neither I nor the other two guys, whom I know from SF book group, are very good at grabbing the talking stick. Still Cameron seemed weirdly controlling. I think more than half the time was just Cameron talking, and he didn't leave spaces where other people could start talking if they wanted to; he'd call on us, like, "What did you think of it? Was there anything else that you liked?" And whenever anyone spoke up without being called on he'd say something like, "Yes, go ahead." He'd actually interrupt a person who was speaking in order to give them permission to speak. When he said he was a history teacher I thought, that explains it.
Back in 2008, Gandhian pilgrimage that ended at Calais.
And his present (surely it is the same guy) simple life agenda has crossed my horizon heretofore.
My dearios, I give you I live a healthier life now I’m free of the trappings of modernity.
O, lucky old you, a healthy bloke with sufficient resources to undertake this project and pontificate about it. You are not just lucky to be 'born without any serious long-term health issues' - this is due to various factors including maternal nutrition and antenatal care, vaccination against common childhood diseases (even if he didn't get these, and I bet he did, he would have benefitted from herd immunity), i.e. the benefits of modern medicine and sanitation.
Also, I have no time whatsoever for anyone who dismisses other people's experiences of pain: there is a man who, we must suppose, never sat an exam while doubled over with period pain, or suffered a migraine. Not at all rare conditions. Your body is not 'always aiming for balance and health'.
And we observe that he has had a vasectomy... because one of my questions (among the many stimulated by the thought of all the technological advances that have made women's lives so much less arduous, which I remarked on when his bogosity first impinged upon my aghast gaze), wot abaht contraception?
Perhaps we might introduce him to the notion that being regularly flogged with a large codfish is a cure for pretentious woowoo?
(And do we think that his simple austere life is 'more work for other people', like the process that gets his handwritten ms - written on tree bark in berry juice, we wonder? - from his simple cabin in the woods to the Guardian website?)
Now, I should be clear, I've had a number of success stories. My pen pal in Netherlands who loves "F.R.I.E.N.D.S." has a lesbian daughter, so coming out to her was a no-brainer. Both of my Australians could care less. Another one of my German pen friends is clearly a LITTLE prickly about it, but my sense is she's kind of prickly about a LOT of things. :-)
But, here's a new piece in the puzzle of "What is up with the conservative streak in pen friends?"
A couple of entries ago, I explained FBs (Friend Books). Several days ago a random person in Maryland who found my name on a FB, sent me a pile of them. Most of them were half-way full and this Maryland correspondent had included her name in all of them, like you do. However. One of them was from that someone I shall call "Cass," who started one for herself. She had a long entry on her front cover about the various things she was interested in and things she'd be willing to swap, all very typical stuff. Then she adds, "I am bi, open-minded pen pals only, please."
No one had added their name.
Not one soul.
Not even the person who sent it to me, who had put her name in literally every other FB.
Despite a plea from Cass that the FB be "passed quickly."
I know I live in the era of Trump, when people boldly and proudly wear their bigotry on their sleeves. Yet, pen palling, by its nature, seemed to me to be the sort of hobby that would naturally attract people who were interested in other people. It's a hobby that requires you to talk to strangers. The entire POINT of pen friends is to reach out, sometimes across international borders, with a hand out in friendship.
Of course I wrote to Cass. I sent her a picture of my family, a short introductory note that suggested that we could be pals, and sent her a pile of FBs to "swap," hoping that somewhere in all of them, she would find someone else who would write back. I added my name to the FB that she started and sent it on to a friend who I know is open-minded, even though she isn't part of the pen palling community.
But, I don't entirely understand it. I mean, yes, pen palling is an old-fashioned kind of hobby. I guess maybe that 'old-fashionedness' lends itself to certain stereotype of a stay-at-home mom, who is lonely... but I still don't see how that lends itself to "eew, gay!" Also what are these people worried about? That we're going to write long letters detailing our sex lives? No, I'm just as boring a pen pal as anyone else. I talk about my failed garden projects and my cats. Do you suppose other pen pals are worried about being hit on? Even though I explain I am MARRIED with kids.
It's weird and baffling, and it makes me sad.
It starts in London with Mary Jekyll, mixes in mysteries (is Dr. Jekyll still alive?), suitably dismal nuns (caring for Mary's half-sister, Diana Hyde), adds in a bit of Holmes and Watson (on their way to another gruesome murder scene), further explores what Dr. Jekyll was trying to do (oh, and he was an alchemist, and they had this alchemist's society), and goes on from there.
It's not just one girl's quest for anything, though: there's the mystery of whether Mary & Diana's father is still alive. Mary tries to hire Sherlock Holmes for the task. There are other interesting people that they meet, especially the women. There is some science involved, and sexism (c'mon, it's the Victorians). A bunch of nuns trying to teach poor women some work skills to save them from sin, in suitably dreary conditions. And a couple of ghastly murders occur, too.
If this sounds anything like your cup of tea, READ THIS BOOK. Like Jae said: Theodora Goss is a fucking genius.
On Worldcat in print, braille, and ebook
On her author blog, her essay "God’s Real Name: On Rescues, Ableism, and Unexpected Empathy" explores her reaction to a homeless man who blesses her.
My own ableism, my own class squeamishness, and bigotry, my interpretation of his religiosity as distasteful insanity, had led me to dismiss the man. I had excluded him from our joint rescue plan--indeed, had understood him as something to be rescued from--and ignored his offer to gift me with help and rescue.
A video of a Nazi in Seattle getting punched and knocked out has been making the rounds. Responses range from satisfaction and celebration to the predictable cries of “So much for the tolerant left” and the related “Violence makes us as bad as them and plays right into their hands.”
A few things to consider…
1. According to one witness, the punch happened after the Nazi called a man an “ape” and threw a banana at him. With the disclaimer that I’m not a lawyer, that sounds like assault to me. I’m guessing Assault in the Fourth Degree. In other words, the punching was a response to an assault by the Nazi.
The witness who talks about the banana-throwing also says he was high on THC. I haven’t seen anyone disputing his account, but I haven’t seen corroboration, either.
2.Remember when George Zimmerman murdered Trayvon Martin, and people like Geraldo Rivera said it was because Martin was wearing a hoodie, and that made Martin a potentially dangerous “suspicious character”? Utter bullshit, I know. But if our legal system let Zimmerman plead self-defense, saying he was afraid because Martin was wearing a hoodie, doesn’t that same argument apply against someone wearing a fucking swastika?
We’re talking about a symbol that announces, “I support genocide of those who aren’t white, aren’t straight, aren’t able-bodied…”
3. Buzzfeed presents this as anti-fascists tracking a Neo-Nazi to beat him up. While antifa Twitter appears to have been talking about this guy, there’s no evidence that the punch was thrown by someone who’s part of that movement. And even if he was, the guy didn’t throw a punch until after the Nazi committed assault (see point #1).
Those Tweets quoted on Buzzfeed also suggest the Nazi was armed, which could add to the self-defense argument in point #2.
Is Nazi-punching right? Is it legal? As any role-player will tell you, there’s a difference between whether something is lawful and whether it’s good.
The “victim” has every right to press charges. But for some reason, he didn’t want to talk to police about the incident.
Was punching this guy a good thing? I mean, there’s a difference between comic books and real life. The Nazi was standing in front of some sort of tile wall. He could have struck his head on the corner after being punched, or when he fell to the ground. In other words, there’s a chance–albeit probably a slim one–that this could have killed him.
My country and culture glorify violence. I’d much rather avoid violence when possible. I think most rational people would. But there are times it’s necessary to fight, to choose to defend yourself and others. I think it’s important to understand the potential consequences of that choice.
Multiple accounts agree this man was harassing people on the bus, and later on the street. He was a self-proclaimed Nazi. Police say they received calls that he was instigating fights, and it sounds like he escalated from verbal harassment to physical assault … at which point another man put him down, halting any further escalation.
I don’t know exactly what I would have done in that situation, but I see nothing to make me condemn or second-guess this man’s choice in the face of a dangerous Nazi.
Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.
What I read
Finished Boys will be Boys, which was still very familiar although it is many years since I last read it. Wonder if Turner would really have liked to be writing something a bit more serious about matters of popular culture; and would have liked to be nerdish in the archives of the publishing companies, because there are sometimes wistful asides about the mysteries that might be solved thereby. Pretty sure this is where the very youthful oursin first acquired that apprehension that each generation disses upon what the young of next are consuming (whether print or radio or more latterly other media) as A Road to Ruin (I wish I could locate my copy of his Roads to Ruin).
Also finished The Witch of Syracuse: worked well, did not have that sense one so oft has when scattered short stories on a character/s are brought together of 'fix-up', but that it worked as a narrative arc. Also thought it worked well on the historical contingencies, nature of the deities, etc. (Very unfluffy Hellenic/Punic goddesses.)
Being somewhat smitten with travel angst, read various short things, comfort re-reads, etc.
Did read the novella Suradanna and the Sea by Rebecca Fraimow (2016): very good, even though I couldn't remember why or when I'd downloaded it.
On the go
Finally began Victoria Bates, Sexual Forensics in Victorian and Edwardian England: Age, Crime and Consent in the Courts (2015) - very good so far.
Also currently in medias res, Patricia McKillip, Kingfisher (2017) - very good, but my bar for riffing on/mashing up Arthuriana is set very high with Naomi Mitchison's To the Chapel Perilous.
*Among other sights seen today, Rynek Underground.
What did I do INSTEAD of reading? I wish I knew. Part of this, I think, is getting back into the "Back to School" mode. Mason was sick with a cold late last week (he missed school on Friday), and then Shawn promptly caught it. So I've been doing a lot of nursemaiding.
Ugh. Work just called. They wanted me to go into New Brighton's' branch tonight and work 5 to 8. I probably should have said yes, but I work both tomorrow and Friday.
Also? It's MasterChef's finale tonight.
I know this sounds stupid, but ever since Mason was very small we have, as a family, been fans of MasterChef. It's the one network TV show we actually tune in for. All three of us gather in the TV room upstairs and adjust the rabbit ears so that we can watch the show. It's not even all that great. Most people would probably prefer The Great British Baking Show or Iron Chef. Not us. We're faithful to Gordon Ramsey and his disappointed looks and rants about things that are "rawr."
For once, too, the contestants left standing at the end are all weirdos. There's one white guy, but he's fully tattooed, bleach blond, and heroin-addict skinny... and a super-odd, with very Italian-American from Brooklyn accent. Currently, I'm rooting for Jason, an Asian-American guy who comes with a male partner, kind of BECAUSE he's gay (though he is one of the most cheerful people they've had on). The other contestant is Eboni, a black woman from Chicago. We like them all. This is one of the few times where we won't be disappointed with whoever wins.
Skipping work for TV, though? Probably I'm going to hell.
I couldn't figure out how I'd been gifted with this "bounty," until I discovered that one of the FBs was started for me, by one of my German pen pals.
Friendship Books are hard to explain. Wikipedia has an article about them, but it doesn't entirely do them justice. The ones I've seen are small, a quarter of a sheet of paper in size. They're handmade, often very crudely--nothing more than colored paper, side-stapled together. On the front is a person's name and address. This little booklet is then sent on to pen pals, each of them writing their name and address in it, and passing it along to one of THEIR pen pals, almost like a chain letter, except the idea is to fill the booklet up with people interested in receiving new pen pals. Once the book is filled, it's sent back to the person whose name is on the front/top.
There's all these unspoken rules. Sometimes people send FBs just to see how far they'll go around the world before they come back, so, if you're using the FB to find more pen pals, you have to examine each entry carefully. Some people will just sign their name and something like, "Waving from Cleveland Ohio, and passing on!"
There are all these codes involved: SNNP (Sorry No New Pen Pals) or NPW (New Pen Pals Wanted) or LLW (Long Letter Writer) or AS (Answers Some), as opposed to AA (Answers All). They will often include date of birth, because a lot of pen pal seekers want to converse only with people their age. They'll also list the languages they're comfortable writing in--which has been frustrating for me. I've been trying to land a Japanese pen pal, but the ONE I spotted in a FB only wanted pen pals in Korean. (You may be scratching your head, but international pen pals often use correspondence as a way to practice/keep up on their English/foreign language skills.) I also actually saw someone who listed, and I kid you not, Esperanto as one of the languages they'd correspond in. People will include lists of interests: puppies! Unicorns! Heavy Metal music! (or, another one I saw from a different Japanese FBer "I love Jesus!")
But, so I got this huge pile and for the first time went through several of them looking for the words "FB and slam swappers needed" which meant that they were willing to accept FBs, because, honestly, I kind of hate the pressure of having a bunch laying around that I haven't sent out yet. This is the other way in which these remind me of chain letters, honestly. I have this weird sense of "AH, I should do something with this immediately!" Anyway, I managed to unload a bunch of them that way.
I have to admit to enjoying reading through these things, strange as they are. When I was showing these to my friend Naomi today, I read one of the longer ones in which this person wanted to swap: "FBs, postcards, teabags, magnets, bookmarks, pocket letters, ATC, flip books, washi." And, suddenly we were like, "What are pocket letters??"
So we Googled it and found that pocket letters are a crafter's answer to pen palling. You thought this was about writing to people? NOPE. This is a f*cking art form! Pocket letters are where you fill up a nine-pocket trading card protector with cute things, like stickers, tea bags, pictures, or whatever you like and then send them to someone who will send something similar to you. You collect them in a three-ring binder, kind of like scrapbooking for strangers.
It seems kind of cool. I may have to try it.
I feel like if I go deep enough into this pen palling culture, I'll be ready to write an exposé for Vanity Fair or Teen Vogue.
This morning it was overcast and a bit cool, by this evening via mildly drizzly has become colder and wetter.
Nontheless, we have managed some flaneurserie around the Old Town, a visit to St Mary's Cathedral with its massive gothic altar, and several museums:
The temporary exhibition of 350 items from the The Princes Czartoryski Museum
All of which leaves me rather too overwhelmed to say much beyond: that's a hell of a lot of old scientific instruments/apothecary paraphernalia, and dealers across Europe must has seen the Czartoryskis coming, with their interest in associational historical items (I would guess scamsters moved into this after the decline in fake relics?).
There was also (v expensive) coffee taken in a very plush place with numerous historical associations.
Place is generally heaving with tourists and tour groups.
Did demons mourn? Oh, yes, breathed Des. It is not something we come into the world knowing, as elementals. But we learn. Oh, how we learn. [loc. 1662]
This novella begins some eight months after the events of Penric and the Shaman: Penric has become friends with Inglis, and is visiting him -- and trying to learn shamanic magic -- when both are sought out by Senior Locator Oswyl. A local sorceress has been murdered, and he needs to find the murderer. Penric, though, is more interested in the fate of the dead sorceress' demon ...( not very spoilery )