Note: This post is not appropriate for young children. And the older ones will be all, "Ooooohh! I'm gonna tell DADDY!!" so you might lock them out, too.
Spider-Man's dirty little secret revealed:
Now that's a Dynamic Duo.
Here's one of the lesser-known heroes, Essenem Man:
He may not be much of a fighter, but he is always on the ball.
GRRAAA!! HULK TENSE!!
HULK TRY RELIEVE TENSION.
The good news: little Ryder had no idea why his mom was in such a hurry to cut the cake.
The bad news: everyone else at the party did.
Liz D., Kristen C., Mark F., & Rebecca J., I would tell you who my favorite superhero is, but I'm afraid it's a three-way tie.
Note: If you're wondering, the second cake is supposed to be Batman. Obviously.
I don't know if anyone else has been aware of the hoohah over the Chalke Valley History Festival, an event which has not been on my radar even though it has been going since 2011, though when I see that it is sponsored by A Certain Daily Rag of Which We Do Not Speak, unless we really have to, I would guess that it's NQOSD. Certainly no-one has come begging yr hedjog to address the crowds on ye syph in history (with or without my sidekick Sid, now available as a keyring), Dr Stopes, the inner meaning of the 1820s cartoons of Ladies Strachan and Warwick canoodling in a park or towsell-mowsell upon a sopha, wanking panic over the centuries etc etc.
But anyway, there has lately been a certain amount of OMG History of Dead White Males (and a few queens) and the fact that it is overwhelmingly DWM d'un certain age giving the fruits of their knowingz to the audience:
Historian pulls out of Chalke Valley festival over lack of diversity (and, cynically, I wonder how many of the 32 women historians are Hott Young Thingz researching queens, aristo ladies, and so forth, though I may be doing them an injustice.)
The lack of women and non-white historians at this year’s Chalke Valley festival sends out a worrying message to Britain’s young
There have been defences made of the event by saying that you need to have Nazis and Tudors because that is what pulls in the punters, and maybe eventually get them onto something else not so overdone and ubiquitous.
However, only today there was a piece in The Guardian about the Bradford Literary Festival: Irna Qureshi and Syima Aslam have upended the traditional festival model to create a 10-day cultural jamboree that holds appeal across the city’s diverse communities
(Okay, does have the Brontes, and why not, but does not, alas, have ritual mud-wrestling by the Bronte Society...)
'They have upended the traditional literary festival model and attracted a demographic that is the dream of all forward-looking funders.'
So it can be done.
I have been going to places I don't want to be and doing things I don't want to do since I was 3 when I started kindergarten. And yet, the last few years, it has been getting worse. I think that was a major reason I could not get out of bed before i lost my last job. Sometimes it feels like I would do anything just to not drag my carcass to work.
It was not even that hot this morning, but it was sufficiently humid that I have gotten to work with my top soaked through with sweat. I hate it so much. (At least I don't live in Arizona!)
Started a historical romance novel. They just spent 50 pages getting the couple of the roof. I mean, I could just see the author allocating word counts to the plot points, so that she came out with a novel.
Realized that the Latuda that I got filled last week only had 14 pills. Which means a) I paid the same amount of co-pay for them that I would have paid for a full month ($75 if you are curious), b) if my psychiatrist for some reason has no samples in her office to give me, I am screwed, because my insurance company would not authorize a refill before 30 days have passed, even though the previous med fill is only for 2 weeks. (I know this because it happened before.) I am so pissed I did not notice this in the pharmacy. Well, nothing to be done about it now.
I have a fuckton of shit to file in the office. I don't like filing. It makes me stand and my feet do not like that.
Tonight I actually woke up and went to get some Tylenol. My hip has been hurting badly enough I could not sleep. Actually most of me was aching all night long, probably because of the weather change. I am 40. I am old. (Yes, I know I am not that old. My body disagrees.)
Well, I guess I am going to get ready and start filing shit. I don't really have any work left I can do while sitting on my ass.
I was recently contacted by a radio show called “Texas Standard” for an interview. Not long before, astronomers announced they had found an additional 200 exoplanets, worlds orbiting other stars, including ten that were about the size of Earth, adding to the more than 2000 known exoplanets already discovered. The host of the radio show, David Brown, wanted to look past the specific news a bit and ask a less proximate question: Why should we care?
This is, in fact, an excellent question. We are inundated with news of all kinds, and science news can get lost in the noise, especially when it’s incremental news, not a major new discovery but something that just adds to and reinforces what’s already known.
You can listen to the interview at the “Texas Standard” site; it’s relatively brief.
I want to talk about this a little more, because the interview was abbreviated and this is an important topic.
Why should we care about this news, or indeed any science news? As I said in the interview it’s because we’re not automatons, trudging along our dreary lives, counting the gray minutes until we die. We are multidimensional beings, capable of seeing and doing so much more, wanting to experience wonder and joy, and curious about the Universe around us.
When we find a new collection of exoplanets, for example, it’s more than just tossing a handful of dusty old data onto a now-slightly-bigger pile. You have to get past the hype and understand what we’re doing here: Kepler is designed to look at a small patch of the sky, one you could easily cover with your thumb held at arm’s length. It looks at 150,000 stars in that patch, and over four years has found well over 2000 planets. But there are hundreds of billions of stars in the galaxy, a million times as many as Kepler is studying.
Statistically speaking, for every planet Kepler finds, there are a million more in the galaxy waiting to be discovered.
This is profound knowledge, the sort of thing that fills the soul, opens the mind, makes us crave to understand more. This alone is reason enough to study the heavens. It stirs our passion, and is no different than the drive that motivates us to create great works of art, or to ponder the deepest of philosophical questions.
There is a part of us that seeks to know more about what’s outside of us. When we gaze upwards, when we train the results of our centuries-long technological and scientific ambition on the heavens, we can find those answers. It satisfies, at least in part, that itch to know more.
But there’s more to it than that. These philosophies, these desires, do not exist in a vacuum. For some, this sort of exploration demands a more materialistic impetus.
For them, note then that motivated self-interest plays into this as well. We are to the best of our knowledge the first technological civilization on this planet, and we’ve spread to every place on it, and even, in a limited sense, above it. The technology we developed to allow this is interacting with the Earth, changing its surface and atmosphere and oceans, and some of these changes are not necessarily to our benefit. We’re running a massive global experiment with no control groups.
By sending up satellites to look down on Earth we’ve discovered these changes and have been able to deal with some of them. But we don’t fully understand the way our planet works. We study it intensely, but it is the only sample of a planet like ours we can study. It would be extremely useful to have more, so that we can compare and contrast our home world’s behavior with theirs. By looking outward we can find these other planets, see how they work, and then learn more about our own.
These aren’t just words. These are actual deeds, things that we really and truly are doing and learning by studying other worlds. We’re trying to answer the biggest questions there are. Why are things this way and not another way? Why are we here? What lies ahead? But we are also hoping to answer more immediate questions: How are we changing our planet? How quickly are we changing it? What can we do to prevent these changes becoming toxic?
Certainly not all these issues will be solved, by searching for exoplanets or otherwise. But the same desire and the same means to do so —science— are by far the best paths we can take to lead to the answers we seek.
By looking outward, we look inward.
One more thing. In the interview, the host then said an interesting thing with respect to this new exoplanet finding: If you find a grain of sand, and then even another hundred grains of sand...if you know there are billions out there, then who cares?
Ironically, this analogy does not show how these discoveries inure us to this news. It shows the exact opposite.
Imagine you’ve lived somewhere isolated, say deep in a forest. You’ve never seen a grain of sand, but you’ve wondered if they exist. Then you find one. Sand is real! That’s a terribly important discovery, and has profound implications. And then you find another one, and the next one, and the next one, and a new revelation dawns: Sand is common. And as you make a pile of them you find some are clear, some translucent, some green, some yellow, some black. They come in different sizes and shapes, and are composed of different materials. What is this telling you?
So, you go exploring, and find more sand the more you look. You see more, and more, and then, breaking through the trees, you see to your utter amazement a beach stretching out before you, something you could only dream of before.
But even that is nothing compared to what lies beyond: An ocean, something you could not have even conceived of. It is beautiful, dark, vast, sweeping, its motion beguiling and enthralling. And even as you see it, you realize you’re only seeing the surface. What lies beneath?
All this because you found a grain of sand, and decided to look for more.
That is why we look for exoplanets. And that is why we do science.
[Top image: Hubble's view toward the center of our galaxy. 150,000 stars are visible here. How many have planets? Credit: NASA, ESA, K. Sahu (STScI) and the SWEEPS science team]
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Most recently, I found one scene and about 6 disconnected lines from a Raven Cycle fic idea I'd noted down after listening to books 1-3 on audio book a few weeks back. The scene was 218 words, so I hacked out 18 of them and posted it as a double drabble.
First Steps (200 words) by Flamebyrd
Fandom: Raven Cycle - Maggie Stiefvater
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Noah Czerny & Richard Gansey III
Characters: Noah Czerny, Richard Gansey III, Ronan Lynch
Additional Tags: Sadness, Ghosts, Double Drabble, Pre-Canon
Summary: Noah becomes Richard Gansey III's friend outside the gates of Aglionby on an otherwise unremarkable afternoon.
A mama robin has taken up residence in a nest in a tree next to my back patio. The nest was occupied last year by a robin, too. Of course, there's no way to know if it's the same robin sitting there now as sat there last year. Regardless, I was surprised to see the nest occupied again. I didn't think robins did that sort of recycling. From what I was able to find on the subject, it's not common but does happen occasionally. Has anyone else seen this sort of reuse of old nests?
- For want of a comma the husband was lost: "The novel features the author's minor series character the ex-Empress Irene, who has by this time abdicated her throne and Benjamin Trafford." /lol, wikipedia
- Reading, books 2017: 51. Having moaned about my inability to read, due to both disability (seasonal and relapsing) and my inability to pick reading material that suited my mood (which was as irritable as my eyes, lol), I then had enforced extra indoor time because I was under the weather, LITERALLY, and am now on course for my goal of 104 books in 2017. ::wryface::
40. Assassination Classroom 5, by Yusei Matsui, 2015, comic. Good, boysy, not hooking enough for me to spend £100+ on the whole story though. :-) (4/5)
42. Hellcat!, vol.2, Don't Stop Me-ow, by Kate Leth and Brittney L. Williams, 2017, comic. Good scripting from Kate Leth and perfect art from Brittney Williams but this volume didn't do much for me as it consists of what seemed a rushed conclusion to the Hedy frenemy storyline (although I presume she'll recur), an interruption for the tedious Civil War event (although Leth does her best and delivers an episode centring on female friendship), the obligatory supervillain ex-boyfriends plot (trying to mock the tropes, I suspect, but without enough depth to pull it off imo), then part of a Black Cat girl gang story that didn't grab me enough to care about the ending. There were two small continuity fails, one in which Hellcat forgets she applied to be Jessica Jones' babysitter (a job that eventually went to Squirrel Girl, lol), and one in which Bailey (and the writer) seems to have forgotten she can use her magic bag to escape by teleporting as she does in the first volume to escape Hellcat and mall security. Although I did like the deliberate ret-con explaining Patsy's mom trying to sell her soul. I've bought Ms Leth's Spell on Wheels trade too [ ↓ see below]. (4/5)
46. Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, vol. 2, Cosmic Cooties, by Amy Reeder, Brandon Montclare, Natacha Bustos, and Marco Failla, 2017, comic. ♥ ♥ ♥ (5/5)
• Now a mealtime catchphrase :-D : "Enough! We will not discuss this at the feasting vestibule."
50. Spell on Wheels, by Kate Leth, Megan Levans, and Marissa Louise, 2017, comic, is basically a road trip version of Practical Magic but with a more diverse cast. As ever Kate Leth excels at writing comedy and light adventure, and Megan Levens' art is perfect for the story. The subplot about drugs and alcohol at a party being used against a woman was well done and solidly blamed the perpetrator (not the victim). I did have two small quibbles but only one worth mentioning: this is at least the fourth ex-boyfriend revenge plot I've read in only three trades by Ms Leth and although she does them well, with nuances, and I recognise this is an aspect of women's lives that's been underrepresented in most mediums and genres of fiction (with the honourable exception being chicklit, obv), I hope she'll expand her storytelling repertoire before it becomes too repetitive. I did like the implication that our heroines' team raison d'etre is finding new magic users, which is necessary because power isn't (and shouldn't be) hereditary. (4/5)
My ancient scanner and the flickr resizing don't do the art any favours so my apologies to Ms Levens but that panel was too funny not to post! Good lettering too, lol. :-D
Characters: Fiddleford McGucket, Candy Chiu, Grenda, Pacifica Northwest
Summary: In an alternate Gravity Falls, where the paranormal is widely known, Fiddleford McGucket tries to inspire a group of students.
Notes: This story was written for Week One of Fiddleford Appreciation Month, and takes place in the parallel dimension referenced in the "A Better World" section of Journal 3. As such, full knowledge of both the show and the Journal is helpful.
“And that’s what we hope to achieve at the International Institute of Oddology!”
1. A friending meme! Go make friends with people.
2. I have a lot of Doctor Who thoughts that I'm going to write up after the final episode next week. Basically I've enjoyed this season more than expected, with the exception of that monks/pyramid section, which was pretty rubbish.
3. I am flying to warmer places next week to see the Royal Ballet. The tickets were expensive but we're staying with family, so that makes up for it, and also it is not so fucking cold as here. (I say this as an Australian. The Bureau of Meteorology says it's 9.7C right now; all of you from colder climes, I am glad not to be you.)
4. I am thinking about taking up aerial hoop, and also my favourite ballet teacher is running a class I can finally make it too!
5. What is which that thing where you decide to go and have a shower or whatever, and then somehow an hour later you are halfway between the couch and the batthroom reading some shit on your phone and you are stuck?? Why is that a thing? Humans are badly designed.
6. My friend's parents somehow...impulse-bought an old Church three hours drive from the city? Anyway, I went with a group of friends to stay there over the weekend, got super drunk on fortified wine, got to know a lovely and interesting person who had previously only been an acquaintance, and saw an old volcano crater!
7. I handed in a draft of my thesis, and while it's only half the work of a whole thesis, I feel happy to have got through it. I'm giving myself a week's break before I get back to work. (Except reading. My primary sources are memoirs and super easy to read, so they can double as recreational reading, as long as I remember to take occasional notes.)
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