Posts Categorized: ideas + opinions

Sunday Tidbits for Your Reading Pleasure…

Single petaled rose with large stames casting shadows

Above photo of a rose taken by Ms. Jen on May 26, 2018 at Castle Howard, Yorkshire, with a Nikon D850 and a Nikon 50mm f/1.4G lens.

The Pivot:

“Something huge is happening in the UK right now, and I wonder where it’s going. […]

Brexit was a classic example of a collusion conspiracy. Many of the named politicians and businessmen above stand to gain millions of pounds from a hard Brexit that causes the British stock market to fall. Others stand to make millions from juicy investment opportunities they were offered in Russia. We cannot know for certain what the quid pro quo for those investment deals were at this time, but I strongly suspect that support for Brexit (and more general socially-authoritarian right-wing policies) was part of it.

And now we’re seeing a rival collusion conspiracy surface. Not all billionaires stand to profit from seeing the remains of British industry sink beneath the waves, and not all of them are in the pocket of the Kremlin’s financial backers. There are a bunch of very rich, rather reclusive men (and a handful of women) who probably thought, “well, let’s sit back and see where this thing leads, for now” about 18 months ago. And now they can see it leading right over a cliff, and they are unhappy, and they have made their displeasure known on the golf course and in the smoke-filled rooms, and the quiet whispering campaign has finally turned heads at the top of the media empires.

If I’m right, then over the next four to eight weeks the wrath of the British press is going to fall on the heads of the Brexit lobby with a force and a fury we haven’t seen in a generation. There may be arrests and criminal prosecutions before this sorry tale is done: I’d be unsurprised to see money-laundering investigations, and possibly prosecutions under the Bribery Act (2010), launched within this time frame that will rumble on for years to come.” – Charlie Stross, The Pivot

Juno Solves 39-Year Old Mystery of Jupiter Lightning

Oldest bubonic plague genome decoded

Facebook confirms that it tracks how you move mouse on the computer screen

Demise of the Nation State

Clever Street Artist Transforms Ordinary Public Places Into Funny Installations

Umberto Eco’s 1999 article on ‘Ur Fascism

Here’s to Unsuicide: An Interview with Richard Powers

Writing and Reading

While I have been on my Big-Five-Oh birthday gift to myself writing retreat, I have also been reading. So far, I have worked my way through a re-read of the whole Ben Aaronvitch’s Rivers of London series and I am nearly finished with re-reading Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series (minus the more recent co-author or other author Pern books).

Why am I rereading books I have already read many times before, particularly in the case of the Pern books? I am reading them not just for the joy of the story but also to see and analyze how two authors who I admire have constructed their stories and series as a whole and from various writing perspectives.

What this past two months of reading and writing has shown or revealed to me is that I have a preference for multiple person point of view / main character stories or at least multiple threads of story interwoven over a single main character’s point of view with one story arc.

McCaffrey’s Pern books are almost always, with the exception of the YA books, multiple main characters with multiple threads of story. While Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London series is from the POV of PC Peter Grant, each book weaves in multiple strands of story, including one series long story thread. One of the things that I also like about Jane Austen books is that by and large her stories are also ensemble stories, even if we see the story from the POV of one or two main characters.

The novel length story I wrote from 2015-2017, A Quiver Full, was a multiple character POV story. I started writing it as a short story for a writing challenge and it was originally written from the POV of two characters, after I expanded it to novel length – several more characters demanded their share of the conversation and stage time. After the fact, I got the feedback from a reader that it should have more of the romance of just two characters and not so much of the other stuff.

After finishing writing A Quiver Full, I printed it out, then I put it up on a shelf for a bit of aging before I reread it and started rewriting. It was six weeks on the shelf when I received the above feedback, which hit me enough of the wrong way that the first draft has stayed on the shelf and I started writing a whole new novel in December of 2017.

This second novel is from one character’s point of view. It is meant to be a humorous mildly unreliable narrator story wherein by the end the reader should be questioning if the main character really was all that and more or if we want our hero to be heroic rather than a mere man. Now more than seventy percent of the way through writing the story, I find myself longing for more strands of story – not in the novel I am writing now but in general.

Then it hit me about a week ago, as I was knee deep in my Pern reread that I prefer multiple characters with third person limited POVs in the plural to one or two main characters. I want more story, I want more points of view, and I want to be stretched. When I return back to California, I will be ready to take A Quiver Full off the shelf and start the rewrite.

But before I can do that, I have got to finish writing my one guy and his POV story.

Tidbits for Your Weekend Reading

Encounter with the Infinite:
How Did the Minimally Trained, Isolated Srinivasa Ramanujan, with Little More than an Out-of-Date Elementary Textbook, Anticipate Some of the Deepest Theoretical Problems of Mathematics—Including Concepts Discovered Only after His Death?

Ms. Jen says – Well written article on Srinivasa Ramanujan, culture, math, and life by Robert Schneider

Gut Microbes Combine to Cause Colon Cancer, Study Suggests

Tales of the Forest

Turning our fairy tales feral again

Beyond the Gaze: Reclaiming the Female Form After Nochlin

An Illustrated Guide to Linda Nochlin’s “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?”

Eau de Nil, the Light-Green Color of Egypt-Obsessed Europe

Glaucous, the Greeny Blue of Epic Poetry and Succulents

Mormons want to save the Republican party’s soul. But is it too late?
Ms. Jen says – I believe the Republican Party may be beyond amendment.

The Virtues of Willfulness: How Fairy Tales Teach Us to Look for Truths Beyond the Simple Stories

Monday Tidbits to Start Your Week Off

Here is a hodge podge of reading links I have been saving in my tidbits folder for you:

Astronomers strike gold – and platinum – as they watch two neutron stars collide

Kodak’s First Digital Moment

In Amish Country, the Future Is Calling

“Lizzie said she was upset by how people had become so attached to their phones.

“People are treating those phones like they are gods,” she said. “They’re bowing down to it at the table, bowing down to it when they’re walking. Here we say we don’t bow down to idols, and that’s getting dangerously close, I think.”

Professor Kraybill said such insights were not unusual among Amish people.

They “are more savvy about the impact of technology on human interactions than most of us are,” he said.”

The Trump Conundrum: Four Factors Sending The Donald Into a Rage/Shame Spiral

The Danger of President Pence

“Trump’s swerve did the unthinkable—uniting Coulter and liberal commentators.”

The Great Nutrient Collapse

“As best scientists can tell, this is what happens: Rising CO2 revs up photosynthesis, the process that helps plants transform sunlight to food. This makes plants grow, but it also leads to them pack in more carbohydrates like glucose at the expense of other nutrients that we depend on, like protein, iron and zinc.”

10 Phrases that Originated in the Middle Ages

The Secret History of Dune

Trump’s Warning to Mueller Proves, Again, That It’s All About the MoneyIt always has been.

How to Kill a Dinosaur in 10 Minutes

In a Warming World, Keeping the Planes Running

Learning to Learn: You, Too, Can Rewire Your Brain

Landscape Photography focusing and Aperture tips from Spencer Cox at Photography Life:
https://photographylife.com/why-hyperfocal-distance-charts-are-wrong
https://photographylife.com/how-to-choose-the-sharpest-aperture

Dancing On My Own :

“As a young person trying to break into a male-dominated field, I spent my 20s afraid of being perceived as a froofy little girl, and acted accordingly. I was a hardcore feminist who’d nonetheless listened to the boys in my MFA program as they mansplained their Raymond Carver tattoos. I consciously practiced not speaking in uptones. I worried I had vocal fry. I limited ballet talk to visits with my mom. I wanted so badly to be taken seriously that I sought others’ approval at the expense of my own.
Oh, we live in a country that hates the dreams of little girls? I thought. Well, I’m going to become a fucking ballerina.

After the election, I lost my patience for this almost overnight. I was furious. Tamping down the desires of my inner five-year-old girl finally felt like the self-effacing erasure it had always been. How many ways do women edit and adjust themselves every day to exist in a world that hates them? I wondered. For me, it had already been too many, and for too long.

And so I began actively returning to the things I’d always loved but had dismissed as too feminine, too froofy, too much. Ballet was one of them.

Oh, we live in a country that hates the dreams of little girls? I thought.

Well, I’m going to become a fucking ballerina.” – Megan Burbank

Weekday TidBits and Links for You

Sherman Alexie on Not Being “The Kind of Indian That’s Expected” : On what it means for Trump to treat the entire country like a reservation — and writing a memoir about a great woman who was not a great mother.

If Republicans Love Their Country, When Will They Show It?

From the nice folks at Volcanoe Cafe: Rockall: The lost continent of Middle Earth

Books (or Series) to Read if You Like The Laundry Files by Charles Stross

The Archetypes of American Folklore – wherein most of the American archetypes are bigger, faster, bolder, and more of braggarts then those of the old country.

The Handmaid’s Tale is a warning to Conservative Women:
“America is rich in Serena Joys…The world she wanted to build could not coexist with the world that allowed her career.”

The Exquisitely English (and Amazingly Lucrative) World of London Clerks : It’s a Dickensian profession that can still pay upwards of $650,000 per year.

Evidence mounts for Planet Nine

The weird power of the placebo effect, explained. Yes, the placebo effect is all in your mind. And it’s real. “Belief is the oldest medicine known to man. ” – Brian Resnick

How do we know where the carbon is coming from?
I found the part on Carbon-14 cycle most interesting – given that there was spike in C14 in the 1950s-1960s due to above ground nuclear bomb testing. And then the amount of C13 can tell us where the added CO2 in the atmosphere is coming from:

“We can now distinguish between the three possible sources of added CO2. We can immediately excludes the circulating pool, because the added CO2 contains no 14C. Of the remaining two possible sources, carbon dioxide from fossil fuels will be depleted in 13C relative to a mineral standard, while carbon dioxide from mineral sources will not. So the question is, has atmospheric carbon dioxide become more depleted in 13C over time, as its amount has risen?

Unambiguously yes.” – Paul Brateman

Tidbits for a Sunday on the Road

The Tappan Zee Bridge

This:

“I divide every disagreement into two classes,” Bob Taylor was telling me. “Class One is when two people disagree and neither can explain to the other person’s satisfaction that other person’s point of view. A Class Two disagreement is when each can explain to the other’s satisfaction the other’s point of view.”

He paused. “Class One is destructive. Most wars and pain and suffering in the world are based on Class One disagreements. Class Two disagreements enable people to work together even when they disagree.”

The key to his management style, he said, was to avoid Class One disagreements, and when he encountered them, to turn them into Class Two.” – How Bob Taylor assembled the team that invented personal computing: an appreciation, by Michael Hiltzik in the LA Times

******

All the Other Tidbits:

‘Muskrat’, ‘Helpmate’, and 6 More Folk Etymologies: Because language isn’t logical

Next to a great bowl of Finnish Fish Soup, Rhode Island Clam Chowder is now my very favorite soup. Ok, a great miso should be on the list duking it out for number one, too.

Where did your dog come from? New tree of breeds may hold the answer via metafilter and a link to the chart, click to make bigger. Study full-text.

Europe’s Famed Bog Bodies Are Starting to Reveal Their Secrets
Starry Success: Protecting the Night Sky Above La Palma

How to Remove Light Pollution from Your Astro Images

“By not having any one idea jump too far from reality, Walkaway demonstrates how close we are, right now, to enormous promise and imminent peril. It can make the book read more like a manifesto than a novel in parts, but good sci-fi is always a bit uncomfortable, and it’s easier to swallow when packaged as this small-idea, understated approach. Utopia and dystopia are not mutually exclusive, as anyone sitting in 2017 watching for signs of nuclear war on their pocket supercomputer can relate to. The good news is that small ideas are easier to implement than big ones, so maybe, with their help, we can turn down the dystopia slider. Perhaps this is how utopia starts: not with a bang, but with a whimper.” – Cory Doctorow’s Walkaway and the Power of Small Ideas, by P.T. Phronk in Tor.com

Tidbits for Your Weekend

Photo of Pear blossom taken by Ms. Jen with her Lumia 950

I have been collecting links for about a month now, some of these you may have already seen but enjoy the ones you have not yet read:

From the Stories, Myth, and Fiction Beat:

Tor.com’s short fiction and poetry series: Nevertheless, She Persisted containing the marvelous The Jump Rope Rhyme by Jo Walton, plus many others

A morning coffee break in the woods, with good companions

Four Kinds of Dystopia

The Fairy Tales of Giambattista Basile’s Il Pentameron

From The Science Beat:

Comet 41P/T-G-K Tangles with the Great Bear : Get out your binoculars and look for the comet in the next two weeks.

New Way to Fight Superbugs Found in Noxious Weed : When folk medicine helps fight MRSA

A Medical Marvel : Wherein reviewing old manuscripts yields a 1000 year old eye cure from Bald’s Leechbook, an Anglo-Saxon medical recipe book.

The Very Drugged Nazis : What is says on the tin

Gotta See It! Four Planets Directly Imaged In Motion Around The Star HR 8799

Researchers create ‘time crystals’ envisioned by Princeton scientists : How about adding a little time to your crystal molecules?

The Education Beat:

And for centuries, segregated by age but never by background, all students congregate in the large meeting room for their 40 minutes of quiet reflection every week. While the meetings always begin in silence, they can eventually be punctuated by the thoughts of anyone in the room who has something to share.

School officials concede that the meeting is sometimes viewed as an imposition by younger students, but say this tends not to be a lasting attitude.

“Invariably, when alums come back here, the thing they say they miss the most is our weekly meeting,” said Travis Larrabee, the high school director. “In what other part of society do you sit in silence with 500 other people?” – Before Matt Ryan’s Ascent, a Quiet Grounding in the Quaker Way

Wanted: Factory Workers, Degree Required

In Hillsdale College, a ‘Shining City on a Hill’ for Conservatives

The question remains is it possible to have a liberal great books education that builds on the western canon and adds in a diverse array of women, POC, the 20th Cent, and post-modernism? I know so. I learned it at Scripps College from 1986-1988.

Conuberation : The Neologism that Keeps Giving…

Thurs. 02.23.17 – For years I have used the word ‘conuberation’ to mean a rather exuberant mashup of people or things or emotions as if someone took a conurbation of said things and put it in a trash compactor on speed. For a long time I used it about my mother’s family, who are known to be rather exuberant and opinionated all at once. In 2003, it was pointed out to me by Wanda that it was not an actual word.

Now, I use conuberate or conuberation to mean any crazy pileup of things all at once. I even tried to write it in a comment on a story yesterday that I am beta’ing and then the quiet voice in the back of my head reminded me that it was not a real word but a word I made up. I went back and read my original 2003 blog post about it, wherein I decided at the time that it was a mashup of conniption + conurbation. Last night, I followed the rereading of my blog post up with an extensive search in the Online Etymology Dictionary and decided that the way I use conuberation now is more in the line of exuberant + conurbation as it applies to people, things, and ideas.

I wondered why if the prefix con- means with or together and there are a number of words that have the same base word but different prefixes, then should I not be able to take the base word of ‘uberate’ and add con- to it? According to our friends at OED, uberare means “be fruitful” in Latin.

Con + uberare would be fruitful together or an abundance together – which is basically how I have been using conuberate for the past two decades or more.

This folks is what happens when one takes Latin in high school and then it has years to percolate through a creative brain. How do I suggest it to become a real English word? Do we all have to use it before a dictionary will pick it up? Do I start a Twitter campaign?