oursin: Photograph of a statue of Hygeia, goddess of health (Hygeia)
[personal profile] oursin
[R]ed tape also means regulations that protect citizens, at a certain cost to companies that otherwise have little incentive to sacrifice some profit to mitigate risk. It is because of red tape that you cannot buy a flammable sofa, and that you are very unlikely to die in an air crash.

Much red tape, indeed, is the frozen memory of past disaster. Modern regulatory regimes as a whole came into being in the late 19th and early 20th centuries because of public outrage at the dangerous practices of unrestrained industry.

This is perhaps partly similar to the phenomenon that having effective infrastructure and ongoing regular maintenance of same is not as dramatic a story as horrendous accidents.

It's possibly also analogous to people becoming anti-vaxxers, because vaccination programmes have been so successful that there is no notion of the risks there used to be from common diseases of childhood.

For the first few years of 'there were no new cases of polio in the last twelve months' this is news. And then that becomes the default setting.

For those who decry 'Elf and Safety, I recommend a salutary reading of the London Medical Officer of Health reports from the C19th, freely available digitised and searchable online.

There are some Victorian values one can get behind, and the rise of public health is one of them.

On other Victorian values, however, and those who ignore history are condemned to repeat it, this person seems unaware that providing tied housing contingent upon working for a particular employer is nothing like a 'welfare state':

it was recently reported that Google’s parent company, Alphabet, is spending is around $30m to provide short-term, prefab housing for 300 of its employees because Silicon Valley housing is in such short supply. Tech giants helped cause a housing crisis in Silicon Valley, now it seems they are becoming landlords. It’s feudalism 2.0.
Not so much feudalism as C19th model towns, e.g. Saltaire, founded by businessmen to keep their workers contented and (I hypothesise) spurning the trades union movement (having had to do with a late C19th enterprise with some of the same elements of benevolent paternalism towards the workforce).

And, looking at that article, was New Lanark really quite the same thing? Enlightened capitalism not quite the same as utopian socialism.

Also had the thought that people who are 'regulation BAD' seem to reverse this opinion when it comes to panic measures against terrorism that are often symbolic rather than proven efficacious.

(no subject)

Jun. 22nd, 2017 09:40 am
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] woldy!

Reading: Tam Lin

Jun. 21st, 2017 07:55 pm
white_hart: (Default)
[personal profile] white_hart
Diana Wynne Jones's Fire and Hemlock, which is a modern reworking of the Scottish ballad 'Tam Lin' as a suburban English adolescence, is one of my favourite books ever, so ever since someone mentioned Pamela Dean's Tam Lin, a reworking of the same ballad as the student experience at a Midwestern US liberal arts college, I've wanted to read it, and I finally got to the point where I wanted to read it enough that I actually ordered a copy a couple of months ago. (It isn't published in the UK, so there's no ebook version available, and I do tend to give more thought to purchases of paper books than ebooks.)

Dean's retelling covers three years and a couple of months of Janet Carter's life as a student at Blackstock College, pursuing a liberal arts degree with a major in English literature, building friendships, learning how to get along with a wide range of people and exploring romantic relationships, and at the same time investigating a book-throwing ghost and trying to work out why it is that everyone in the Classics department seems rather strange. Translating the plot of a ballad into a 450-page book leaves a lot of space around the plot for Dean to paint a picture of the college atmosphere, the pressures of studying and the delights and unreality of spending four years isolated from the world, surrounded by learning and other people who want to learn and share your interests. I found the liberal-arts college background familiar enough to make me rather nostalgic for my own student days, but different enough to be fascinating, and I liked the characters and their interactions a lot. I particularly enjoyed the way the friendship between Janet and her two roommates develops, from a very prickly relationship at the start (they have very little in common) to a real friendship and mutual support network, and the way that the college environment masks the very real peculiarities of some of the Classics students.

For me, this felt like the book I wanted Jo Walton's Among Others to be; a literate and literary study of growing up bookish, with a liminal fantastic element. Among Others simply didn't do it for me, but this did, and while I will never love it as much as Fire and Hemlock (which, interestingly, is also a very literary book - I read a lot of things for the first time because they were mentioned in it) I did like it a great deal.
oursin: Photograph of small impressionistic metal figurine seated reading a book (Reader)
[personal profile] oursin

What I read

Finished Binti. Reminded me a bit of other things I have read over my sff reading life, but well-done, may well go for the next one.

Sarah Gailey, River of Teeth (2017). Okay, everybody mentions the hippos, but isn't it, underneath that, a combination western/caper tale where an unlikely team is brought together and has its own tensions besides the issues with what it has to do? (not that that isn't a good armature). Enjoyable, but ended abruptly and cliffhangingly, and is the new thing (see Binti above) of issuing novellas which are only the beginning of a longer story arc the new allotrope of serialised fiction? (but hey, it worked for Middlemarch, though at least Ms Evans indicated that it was an ongoing story.)

Dana Stabenow, Bad Blood (2013). Not quite as good as the last one I read, I think, but ended with A Thing that makes me want to go on to the next quite shortly to see how that pans out for Kate Shugak.

Two short pieces of Barbara Hambly's 'Further Adventures': Hazard (2017) (Sunwolf and Starhawk) and Elsewhere (2017) (Darwath).

Picked up in booksale, Arthur Ransome, Missee Lee (1941). I remembered very little about this, even though I later discovered I already had a copy on my shelves. I don't think it was ever among my favourites of the Swallows and Amazons books; but I've found, on re-reads of these books, that somehow they do not do for me what they did in youth - something about the style? I don't know. Also, early C20th rendering of Chinglish, sigh.

On the go

Elizabeth George, A Banquet of Consequences (2015). I was considerably off these when they were turning Lynley's Epic Manpain up to 11, but this one was very cheap in a charity shop and promised mostly Havers. And really, do we not want more of the scruffy maverick with constant disciplinary issues who is also a woman? - the 'top brass not pleased' is massive at the beginning of this one. Okay, it's got a standard E George riff on 'all unhappy families are different in baroquely complicated ways, and there are no happy families' (the misery handed on is not so much a coastal shelf as the Mariana Trench), but I have stuck with it, though have just been irked that over 500 pages into the narrative they are only just looking into how anyone might have got hold of the somewhat unusual toxic substance involved.

Also, on the ereader, because I don't want to tote around a damn great fat paperback, from the romance bundle, Ivory Lei, How to Wed an Earl (2013) - not got very far, but seems as, 'be betrothed in infancy by respective parents' is how...

Up next

Well, in another charity shop found the preceding volume by Elizabeth George, Just One Evil Act (2013), which, I daresay, will reveal what got Havers into the deepest of disgrace and quite possibly the depths of depression, but I'm not sure I really want to commit to going straight on to another of these. Or maybe the next Stabenow in the series.

Or I could look through my tbr piles, actual and virtual.

(no subject)

Jun. 21st, 2017 10:09 am
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] adrian_turtle!

Stuffs

Jun. 21st, 2017 10:14 am
ironed_orchid: marilyn monroe with birthday cake (marilyn)
[personal profile] ironed_orchid
I had a birthday last week, I am now 45, which I think makes me officially middle aged or something.

My dear friend Charlie Quinn has a Patreon which I support and as a result I get sent postcards which they have designed. These postcards come in an envelope because they are not always safe for work. The June card is a very good example of NSFW language but completely awesome and amazing.

click )

I love it so much. The Trash Panda magnet in the photo was a gift from colleague and made by one of her amazing talented daughters who makes fantastic pins and magnets and stickers and cards and things and here are some examples of her works, but is currently taking a break from her Etsy shop due to life. Here are some examples including a much better photo of the Raccoon magnet: click because biggish )

(Her twin sister also makes amazing arts, mostly in the form of delicate vulva vases but also some other quirky ceramics like these claw handled mugs.)

---

I'm having a Hogswatch party on Saturday, I have even ordered a leg of ham. I have the next few days off and will be cleaning all the things then cooking all the things. I'm looking forward to it and wish that many of you could be there.

And the final volume

Jun. 20th, 2017 06:54 pm
the_comfortable_courtesan: image of a fan c. 1810 (Default)
[personal profile] the_comfortable_courtesan

The collated version of Volume the Twelfth is now available to those who care to download it, thanks as ever to the good offices of [personal profile] clanwilliam.

Any expression of appreciation may be made here: PayPal, tho' 'tis ever possible that you may wish to save your pennies against the appearance of the edited and revised version.

oursin: Books stacked on shelves, piled up on floor, rocking chair in foreground (books)
[personal profile] oursin

I was responding to someone else's post and saying that I'm actually quite hesitant about recommending some of the writers/works that I love, because I can see that they have very individual and distinctive styles and that these may not work for everybody.

Some while ago (but failed to save the link) read a post somewhere pointing out that if you write a book or make a movie or [whatever], that people really really LOVE it is pretty much certain that there will be some people who really really HATE it; and that people who are aiming to make something that will appeal to everybody end up with a bland mush* that nobody HATES perhaps but nobody goes raving enthusiastically about either.

For some people, and maybe in some genres, this is a feature and not a bug: I have lately been reading various romance authors and a lot of them seem fairly interchangeable to me, i.e. I would not pick up a work and immediately know it was by YX rather than XY. See also some of the comments I have made about the reissued 'Golden Age' mysteries I have been sent as freebies and made myself read. Sometimes e.g. Allingham may irritate me intensely, but you know that you're reading a book by her and not Any Old Person.

Me myself I am a sucker for a distinctive voice provided that it is fresh rather than derivative (suspect this may account for why I like the Flashman books but not the various works that have tried to do the same thing, without, I depose, anything like GMF's abilities).

Though I am also generally twitchy about people who proselytise for authors/works/movies; possibly the flipside of that is people who diss on something you're reading or have on your shelves, which is rude. (Plus, if you a person who reads ALOT, you are going to have books about that are not favourites of your heart or indeed anything but something you are reading, because reading is what you do, they are at least a step up from the back of the cereal packet.)

As I have heretofore remarked, there is no book that everybody SHOULD read.

*Though is there not a proverb about porridge and no danger of world shortage of oatmeal?

Outsourcing

Jun. 20th, 2017 10:24 am
the_comfortable_courtesan: image of a fan c. 1810 (Default)
[personal profile] the_comfortable_courtesan

Returning to the business of self-publishing these memoirs both in pretty bound volumes and as ebooks -

- yr amanuensis was looking over the Smashwords and Lulu sites yestere'en.

And thinking that there would be a fair amount of faff involved, and then noticing that Lulu (I may not have got that far with Smashwords) offers a package deal for doing the formatting &C, and that I am coming into a little legacy shortly -

But then thought, surely there are talented and competent people among my readers or their associates who would be prepared to undertake this for a fair price?

(It is the business of the wealthy man/To give employment to the artisan.)

I still have some final editorial touches to make to the Word documents, but if anyone is interested in this, or can recommend someone, please speak comment or DM me now.

I also revisit the matter of covers and whether there are any among the readership of artistick ability, or knows of any such, who would be interested in undertaking cover design for appropriate remuneration?

My latest thoughts on titles and covers )

(no subject)

Jun. 20th, 2017 09:40 am
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] bzeep and [personal profile] tournevis!

Incrementality

Jun. 19th, 2017 07:17 pm
oursin: The Delphic Sibyl from the Sistine Chapel (Delphic sibyl)
[personal profile] oursin

I was synchronicitously pleased to find this blog post crossing my line of sight earlier today: Prospecting for kryptonite: the value of null results, because I had been thinking about incrementality and the time it takes for things to see results, and this is not just about scientific research.

Lately, at a symposium-thing I was speaking at, in the question/discussion bit somebody asked, was [change in the law] down to its being the Permissive Society at the time. And I was, actually that change in the law was made by people who had been working towards it for several decades, and had finally got into positions of power and influence and had the clout to bring it about, and it was more the final outcome of stuff that happened in the 30s than something that can be attributed to its beneficiaries, the Sixties Generation.

I think I've moaned on before about the 'Spaceships of the Gods' hypothesis and the idea that certain forms of knowledge came from Out There, because Infinite Regress: who found out how to build pyramids in the first place? why couldn't they have put on the show right here in the old barn gradually developed the capacity to do so over time and trial and error. The pyramids did not grow up overnight. So it might just as well have happened here as Somewhere Else and been brought to us by ?benevolent aliens.

There was also a good post somewhere I came across about archival research and how it is not opening a file and DISCOVERY!!! it is looking through files files files and putting little pieces together.

Yes, there are moments when everything comes together, and when the outcome of the process finally surfaces above the horizon: but it doesn't Just Happen. There was history.

Culinary

Jun. 18th, 2017 08:41 pm
oursin: Frontispiece from C17th household manual (Accomplisht Lady)
[personal profile] oursin

During the week: Greenstein's 100% wholewheat loaf, 50:50% ordinary strong wholemeal/einkorn flour - v nice.

Saturday breakfast rolls: basic buttermilk, 3:1 strong white flour/medium cornmeal.

Today's lunch: partridge breasts seasoned and panfried in butter + olive oil, served with rosemary jelly and damson jelly, with sticky rice with lime leaves, buttered

Bread-making during the week I expect.

oursin: Text, nits, for picking of, lettered onto image of antique nitcomb from the Science Museum (nitcomb)
[personal profile] oursin

- that the plot of My Cousin Rachel is based on a very dubious understanding of English testamentary law.

According to the plot summary of the original novel here, Ambrose had never changed the will he made before marrying Rachel, which left everything to Philip.

Ahem: marrying voids existing testamentary dispositions, so, unless he had made another will embodying the same provisions after marriage (which he could have done, since there was no automatic obligation to provide for wife and children), everything would go to his wife, i.e. Rachel.

But even if he had made a new will in the same terms as the old, given that there seems to have been plausible medical evidence that he was not in his right mind at the time of death, she would anyway presumably have had good grounds for contesting the will.

Doctor Who 10.10 - "Eaters of Light"

Jun. 18th, 2017 10:05 am
lizbee: (Default)
[personal profile] lizbee
I watched last week's episode at Continuum, while hiding from people in the committee room, and made a terrible discovery: iView streaming quality is much, much better over 4G on an iPad than over the NBN on a new desktop.

Guys.

That was pretty much the highlight of Gatiss's episode, so let's move on to the triumphant return of Rona Munro.

You never hear the spoilers. )
oursin: George Beresford photograph of Marie of Roumania, overwritten 'And I AM Marie of Roumania' (Marie of Roumania)
[personal profile] oursin

And while I am all about let's have some Dorothy Parker love, I'm not sure this essay really does her any favours:

The wicked wit and enigma of Dorothy Parker – 50 years on

Enquiring minds wonder, was she in fact the only woman at the famed Algonquin Round Table? Not according to the Wikipedia entry, which suggests that the author of that column is in thrall to the 'There Can Be Only One' theory of women's presence. Or just Did Not Do The Research.

One is not astounded to be told of her support for progressive causes, which as I recalled even featured in that movie Mrs Parker and the Vicious Circle.

Why is 'finding her work tricky?

[S]he’ll be slightly improbably shelved instead with literary giants: Penguin Classics’ The Collected Dorothy Parker.

WTF? Why not? (How bulky are the collected works of Oscar Wilde?)

It may be this protean, unpigeonholable aspect of Parker that most looks forward to female authors today, as they shift between, say, fiction, memoir, poetry, journalism, screenwriting, live appearances and social media.

And that is different from female authors of the past exactly how, come on down Dame Rebecca!

I think there are underlying assumptions there that Big Important Writers write Big Important Books and stick to their last.

(Unfortunately I can't find online the article by Benjamin Markovits taking on the class and gender assumptions of Cyril Connolly's line about the pram in the hall as one of the Enemies of Promise, which seems related to this.)

I don't think that solution works...

Jun. 16th, 2017 07:38 pm
oursin: Illustration from the Kipling story: mongoose on desk with inkwell and papers (mongoose)
[personal profile] oursin

Glancing through Captain Awkward today and seeing this problem, and looking at the comments -

This being about that thing when people come up to you for professional/expert advice when you are in personal or not-on-duty off-the-clock mode, which I may have whinged about in my working days in the library staff allotrope which is, the assumption that any member of library personnel who is not behind a desk but is doing something in the public bits of the library is not somebody doing something connected with a non-public-facing part of their job description (or indeed, improving the shining hour on break-time), but a walking, talking, context-sensitive help menu.

(Possibly the most persistent instance of this I encountered was a person who had been told that the person who dealt with [particular section of the collection] was away and if they were not on site, there was no-one else who could assist. Having been told this at the desk, person still came up to anyone who looked like a member of staff, including me, I think this was actually within the first fortnight I was even in post, badgering them to see if they could help. Though I have mentioned heretofore those people who think that there is a secret access code involving asking a specific number of times, and possibly giving the special handshake.)

Given that it was but a short walk to the main enquiry desk and they still did this, I am disinclined to optimism for the success for setting up special 'come and ask me about my area of expertise' sessions. (These may be a useful thing, but probably not for this type of person.)

I will give somewhat of a pass to people who wish to access my very own specific expertise on some matter, though I will be a lot more agreeable if you either email me about this or make a specific appointment rather than coming up to me when I'm actually engaged in my own research. (I wasn't too chuffed either with the guy who pursued me into the computer lab where I was checking my email during a conference.) But not the people who just needed to talk to an archivist, any archivist, of which during working hours there was always one on call for enquiries.

People who want to come and ask person going about their own business some matter that has crossed their mind and seems to them of burning urgency I suspect are never going to turn up to a 'bring us your questions!' sessions or read any online info they've been directed to.

This cynicism brought to you also by email chains from intending researchers asking for info which had already been sent about finding and ordering material (in some instances I am quite sure in the hope that we would crack and order it for them).

(no subject)

Jun. 16th, 2017 10:42 am
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] quoththeravyn and [personal profile] rahael!

Baths of days past

Jun. 15th, 2017 05:59 pm
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
[personal profile] mme_hardy
I'm reading about the Summerland fire disaster (a resort on the Isle of Man burned down, killing 50) and I got to the list of special baths offered.

At street level, there was the remedial entrance for persons using the aerotone, sauna, steam, hot, cold plunge, slipper, Vichy douche, massage, Russian vapour and Turkish baths. Some facilities on this level, such as an aerotone bath, did not appear in the original plans and were added during construction because they had proved to be profitable additions to swimming baths in mainland Britain.

Aerotone baths (do watch the video!) were a sort of early Jacuzzi with bubbles and a cold rinse at the end.  As far as I can tell, a slipper bath is a plain ol' bathtub with one sloped side for reclining.   A Vichy douche was, at Vichy, a four-hand massage under a hot shower of Vichy water.  At Summerland, it was presumably just a massage under a hot shower, which still sounds swell to me.  I do not know the difference between a sauna, a Russian vapour bath, and a Turkish bath. 

Sandwiches Have Gone Modern

Jun. 15th, 2017 05:15 pm
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
[personal profile] mme_hardy
From Woman's World, August, 1936 p. 24, but this time not nasty. 


To begin at the beginning, here are two quick sandwich breads -Chocolate Bread which you will find perfectly grand for cream cheese or marmalade sandwiches, and Date-Nut-Orange Bread.

Chocolate Bread
3 cups sifted cake flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1 egg
1/4 cup melted butter or shortening
1 1/4 cups milk
2 squares (ounces) unsweetened chocolate, melted

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Add sugar and when thoroughly blended moisten with the beaten egg. shortening and milk,. adding these gradually and mixing well. Finally add the chocolate and when well blended turn into a greased loaf-pan and bake in a moderate oven-350 degrees F.--about one and a quarter hours.

Date-Nut-Orange Bread

2 cups white flour
1 teaspoon soda [baking soda, I assume, not washing]
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups graham flour
3/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup chopped nut-meats
2/3 cup pitted dates, cut small
Grated rind 1 orange
2 cups sour milk
1/2 cup molasses

Sift together the white hour. soda, salt and baking powder. Add the graham flour, sugar, nut-meats,
dates and orange rind and moisten with the blended sour milk and molasses. Turn into one large well greased bread pan and bake in a moderate oven-350 degrees F.-about one and a quarter hours.

...
Another variety of the rolled sandwich is the one where buttered fresh bread is rolled around a spray of watercress. a short stalk of celery (plain or stuffed) or a tip of cooked asparagus, any of these being first dipped into French dressing for greater flavor.
[I've seen recipes where the asparagus was dipped in hollandaise. Mm.]

...
Afternoon Tea Sandwiches

Cucumber: White bread with filling of finely minced well drained cucumber seasoned with onion juice, lemon juice and minced parsley.

Rolled Mint: Cream butter for sandwiches then work into it very finely minced mint-1 teaspoon to 2/3 cup butter.

Peach Cream: Spread white, graham or whole wheat bread first with softened butter then with cream cheese., next with peach (or apricot) marmalade. Nuts if you like but they are good enough without. Serve either as open or closed sandwiches.

Tropical: Use white bread, spread with creamed butter then with currant jelly into which shredded coconut, plain or toasted, has been beaten with a fork. Top with thinly sliced bananas sprinkled with lemon juice. Serve either open or closed.

Date Nut: Thin slices of pound cake or sponge cake with filling of chopped dates and nuts (in equal proportions) moistened with orange juice.

Campfire Sandwiches

Split, toast and butter round sandwich rolls. Fill with piping hot slices of sautéed canned corned beef hash, top with a little prepared horseradish, mustard or mustard pickle. Serve dill pickles on the side.

Roquefort-Ham for the Slag Party*

Combine finely minced ham with one-fourth its bulk each of mashed roquefort cheese and chopped sweet pickles. Moisten with French dressing or mayonnaise. Use buttered whole wheat or rye bread or pumpernickel, topping the filling, if desired, with thinly sliced, well chilled, seasoned fresh tomatoes.

Century Club

Use three slices buttered toast for each sandwich. Arrange on the first, lettuce, crisp bacon and sliced tomato moistened with French dressing or mayonnaise. Cover with second slice of toast, placing on this lettuce, cold tongue and minced mustard pickle. Top with remaining toast slice, cut through to form two triangles and garnish with pickle fans.

* okay, it's really Stag Party, but I prefer the OCR version. 

Well, maybe

Jun. 15th, 2017 07:22 pm
oursin: Text, nits, for picking of, lettered onto image of antique nitcomb from the Science Museum (nitcomb)
[personal profile] oursin

There was an essay in the most recent Slightly Foxed on Esin Eden and Nicholas Stavroulakis, Salonika: A Family Cookbook, which mentions that Eden was from a family of 'Salonika's strangest and most secretive sect', pejoratively known as the Donme - followers of the C17th self-proclaimed Messiah Sabbatai Zevi, who converted to Islam in order to avoid execution. This led to a very eclectic and inward-looking sect.

The essay mentions in passing that they 'practised ritual wife-swapping'.*

And at first I was, o, come on, the early Christians were accused of holding orgies. See also the Ranters and the Brethren of the Free Spirit, where a good deal of evidence for their immorality comes from hostile witnesses, or even, it is suggested, lurid imaginations. ('They are against everything we believe in and that probably includes doing the things we are not supposed to do'.)

And then on the other hand I think of e.g. the Oneida Community and other sects and cults with similar notions of non-possessiveness and attempted practice of same.

And on yet another paw, ideologies suggesting free love as an ideal have been declared to be about 'holding women in common' rather than, you know, possibilities of choice (okay, often compromised in practice).

And anyway, am inclined to think that the term 'wife-swapping' is an over-simplification of what was probably a far more complex phenomenon.

*A little light googling brings up several what appear to be conspiracy theory sites about the sinister influence of the Donme, so, problematic, evidence-wise.

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