Was lately reading something about (male) travellers and those Amazingly Beautiful Women they saw somewhere a long way away after arduous journeying, which might be partly about Exoticising the Other, but also, I think, about there being some place (or time) which is not boring old Here, where things are amazing.
On the, Not Like The Women I Have To Deal With Here And Now In The Present, a friend of mine has a piece somewhere or other (actually I think it's in a volume in which I too am represented) about certain late C19th French (male) intellectuals complaining that women of their day were by no means comparable to the HOTT witty libertine ladies of the Ancien Regime in their salons.
And this led me to the thought that maybe if you are living in it no time is Perfect and Ideal: some may be better than others, for more people, maybe. Just as there were people who found, for them, good lives in times/places that are not usually thought of as utopian eras and most time-travellers would not put on their bucket lists.
Anything close-up and quotidien is, I depose, something the flaws in which you are going to apprehend fairly acutely. Though possibly the upside of that is, that they are the flaws and hindrances that one has developed work-arounds for (see Katharine Whitehorn on the little niggles about one's house that one hardly notices any more but has to warn visitors about).
I.e., this week has been mostly getting the new computer to do those things which it ought to do, and leave undone those things which it ought not do -
Among which the most disturbing was the discovery this morning that Thunderbird was marking ALL, yes ALL, incoming mail as Junk and also as Read, fortunately I did discover that this was happening.
There has also been wrestling with getting to be able to talk to the MyCloud as part of my home network rather than via a remote interface connection.
There was the oops, I needed to do a backup of This Thing, That Thing and The Other Thing from the old computer, and having to sort that out.
There is all the finding the passwords and activation codes for things for which I entered a password when I first activated the thing, and never since.
There is also the loss of some things - don't seem to be able to have the little slide-show widget thing of photos on my desktop, chiz - and finding that the new versions of things are Not What We Expect - the new Kobo Desktop App is quite horrid.
But on the whole, we are reasonably satisfied with the New System - its speed in particular is commendable.
However, I am annoyed with Opera, which I was intending using as my secondary browser to avoid Microsoft and Google, but the main thing I wanted a secondary browser for was so that I can log into The Other DW Journal without logging out of this one, but Opera, for some reason I wot not of, insists on autofilling the login screen with the details for this account rather than the other - la, 'tis tedious vexatious.
What I read
Finished The Color of Fear: up to usual standard.
PC Hodgell, The Gates of Tagmeth: these have definitely succumbed to a kind of Dunnett syndrome, in which there is some huge mysterious meta-arc going on, occasionally alluded to, but each episode deals with some particular problem that Jame (mostly) has to face (there were a few other viewpoint sections in this one) in the foreground and doesn't seem to be advancing the longer game particularly. On the other hand, kept me reading. On the prehensile tail, so not the place to start. (Are there really only 8 books in the Kencyrath sequence? only I have been reading them for decades, so it seems more.)
JD Robb, Echoes in Death (2017), as the ebook had finally come down to a sum I consider reasonable for an ebook. The mixture as usual, pretty much. Okay, not the most sophisticated of mystery plots, I got this and the twist very early on, but it's the getting there, I guess.
On the go
Discovered I had a charity-shop copy of PD James, The Private Patient (2008), the last of the excursions of Dalgleish, which I had not already read for some reason - possibly because I wasn't at that time sufficiently keen on PDJ and AD to shell out for a trade paperback.
And I can't help wanting to say to Boris J that in Ye Bygone Days when people built follies they did so on their own estates and with their own money (though on reflection this was probably ill-gottens from the Triangle Trade and dodgy dealings in India) and didn't ask the nation to pay for them.
(And aren't there already memorials to Princess Di? How many do we need?)
And, you know, it's a pretty idea and in theory I am there with Thomas Heatherwick that 'London needs new bridges and unexpected new public places': except that that is not a part of London that required Yet Another Bridge, there are so many that taking the boat journey along that stretch of river is more like going into a tunnel.
Also, it was not properly a public space:
a link that would be privately run, would be able set its own rules for access, and would close at night and be available to hire for private events.Not dissimilar from those gardens in London squares to which access is by residents' key. I do not think that is a definition of 'public' that would have been assented to by those urban planners and reformers creating parks and spaces for the benefit of the inhabitants of the metropolis.
I am also boggled by the suggestion that the river is not already pretty much 'centre-stage' in our great city.
I think Mad William would have had things to say along the lines of
I wander thro' each charter'd street,and whether if crowds flowed over the bridge, so many, common and routine usage would have meant that
Near where the charter'd Thames does flow.
Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled,
And each man fixed his eyes before his feet.
I might go along on the line suggested by this to comment that what good is a garden bridge if the land lies waste?
So, farewell then, printer which has been with me some dozen or so years, also previous computer.
Take it away Bessie Smith:
The usual sturm und drang over setting up the new All In One Computer and the printer which purports to be wireless, but refuses to connect thusly: however it will connect by cable.
Though alas, all the USB ports are on one side of the computer, the one away from where the printer has to go (unless I do some major rearranging), but I think I have contrived.
And of course, various other things still to get sorted.
But, getting there, sorta.
Bread during the week: a Standen loaf, v tasty.
Saturday breakfast rolls: brown grated apple with molasses and ginger: using up two bags of flour probably a) rather more wholemeal than strong white b) probably quantities a bit more than usual; also using up ginger so these were quite gingery.
Today's lunch: small whole sea-bream baked in foil with ginger and lime; served with purple crinkle-cut sweet potato fries, garlic roasted sweet-stem cauliflower and bellaverde broccoli, steamed samphire tossed in butter, and padron peppters.
The outline for my remarks on The Expanse and politics at Worldcon 75 in Helsinki, Finland.
- Spoilers through 2nd Season of the TV Series (Caliban’s War)
- Will talk about both books and TV series
- Who am I
- Emma Humphries
- Programmer and Project Manager, 20+ years experience
- 29 years in fandom (28 WisCons)
- Format: I’ll talk for 25 minutes or so, and then we’ll have a discussion for the remainder of the time we have
- What is The Expanse?
- ASK: how many of you have read or watched?
- Series of Novels and TV Programs
- James S. A. Corey (Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck)
- Future history of the Inner and Outer Solar System
- Why talk about politics?
- Because SF has been the acceptable place to talk about politics
- Queer/Non-binary/Trans representation
- Universal Income
- What I’m Not Going to Talk About
- I’m going to suggest you start with the Black Girl Nerds podcast who have been recapping and discussing the TV Series
- Why The Expanse
- I love space opera
- I adore the women in this show
- Naomi Nagata: Ship’s Officer and Engineer
- Bobbie Draper: Gunnery Sgt in the Martian Marines, who trains under one Earth Gravity
- Chrisjen Avasarala: UN Undersecretary who knows where the bodies are buried
- All represented as women of color in the TV show
- All flawed, but real characters, I empathize with
- I stan for Chrisjen
- Competent, middle-aged women are awesome
- Charlie Jane Anders on Twitter: “Now, more than ever, we need Chrisjen Avasarala. #TheExpanse https://t.co/Ih8j19kh1W”
- I love to hate on Holden
- But, honestly, can anyone stand Holden?
- Miller’s stuck with him because of alien machinations
- What does Naomi see in him?
- Queer/Non-binary/Trans representation
- The good, there are gay and lesbian characters
- The bad
- Heteronormative relationships
- The Martian ambassador and his husband
- Annushka "Anna" Volovodov
- A settler couple on Illus
- Two hundred years in the future, and the nuclear family is still the norm
- Holden’s family back on Earth, a poly-cule, are considered weird/aberations
- No non-binary or trans characters
- The non-normative relationships and characters are the thieves, rebels and sex workers
- Heteronormative relationships
- Definition time!
- A type of political discourse which posits an “authentic people” in opposition to “a privileged elite.”
- In left populism that’s often the workers vs the wealthy
- debates on distribution of wealth
- in right populism it’s white people vs everyone else
- debates on who is and isn’t part of the “nation”
- The OPA is a populist movement with both right and left characteristics
- Anderson Station, and Illus are left populist actions
- Workers, abused by Inner Planets wealth and corporations standing up to power and paying with their lives, and/or using violence as a means
- But the OPA has a right-leaning side which is terrifying
- We see it at the end of Season 2 where the economic populism gives way to an nastier ethnic populism
- In the 2nd Season a Belter Ship, carrying evacuees from Ganymede to Tyco Station, puts all the people from the Inner Planets out the airlock
- It will only get worse in later books
- Definition time!
- Universal Basic Income
- Also known as Social Income, or under the UN in the world of the Expanse, “Basic”
- There’s a body of economic research that finds evidence for giving people direct cash assistance as the best way to support people
- Basic income, in and of itself is not sufficient
- You need universal access to healthcare
- In “Churn,” for example, we see the UN handing out substandard/palliative-only care
- A well-implemented Social Income system, with healthcare (including reproductive healthcare), transport, and housing can provide a stable base for people to build on
- In the world of the Expanse, the social income system is geared to subsistence and governability
- Needs more work
- Tell me why all your queer relationships are heteronormative
- As a queer dyke, I want to see relationships like the ones I see in my community in the here and now, or at least understand why they aren’t there
- Yes, this is a honest portrayal
- How populism, unchecked, can go from a liberation struggle to genocidal violence
- Social Income
- A pessimistic view
- Is this in the service of story, people struggling to escape a dismal earth? Or a libertarian view of the role of the state?
The Long Read in today's Guardian is on 'clean eating' and how problematic, not to say, entirely woo-woo, it is.
However, I think the author misses a trick because, even though she cites to a mid-Victorian food reformer:
In the 1850s, a British chemist called Arthur Hill Hassall became convinced that the whole food supply of London was riddled with toxins and fakery. What’s more, he was right. Hassall had done a series of investigations for the medical journal the Lancet, and found that much of what was for sale as food and drink was not what it seemed: “coffee” made from burnt sugar and chicory; pickles dyed green with poisonous copper colouringsit is claimed:
He started to see poison everywhere, and decided that the answer was to create a set of totally uncontaminated food products. In 1881, he set up his own firm, The Pure Food Company.He was pretty much right to do so, rather than, as suggested, paranoid. An examination of the annual reports of Medical Officers of Health across London for the period, handily available digitised and searchable online at London's Pulse indicates how extremely yucky food practices in the metropolis could be at the period: food hygiene and contamination was a major concern for MOsH.
I also wonder how many people, and of what demographic, are actually into 'clean eating', given that most people don't even manage their 5 a day (I'm not honestly sure I achieve this every day myself). Well, presumably people with time and resources enough to worry over what they put into their mouths, rather than where the next meal is coming from.
And apparently some German politician has been complaining about the decline of the good old German nudist tradition. I remember some years ago at a conference when someone who works on sexuality in the former GDR was talking about the perception among its former citizens of the loss of body positivity of that kind when the Wall fell and exposure to consumerist capitalism happened.
- because that's where I've gone to.
No, really, I am boggled.
So I bit the bullet and ordered a new desktop computer, a new notebook, and a new printer: because I realised that my existing printer, the one that is acting affectingly consumptive, was one that has been doing service for 12+ years and thus I think putting out to grass is the sensible thing to do. And if I'm getting a new printer, and I already had it in mind to get a new desktop, rather than having to faff twice over to get computer and printer to make nice to one another, I might as well combine getting these things and just have a massive getting up to speed with new electronics session.
And My Favoured Retailer did not have the desktop model I wanted so I had to go Elsewhere, but they did have the Yogabook and printer model I wanted: but then it turned out that these come from separate places, and there was some suggestion that the printer might take up to a week to arrive.
But, lo and behold, mirabile dictu: the desktop and the Yogabook arrived pretty much within 5 minutes of one another at a civilised time of day, and the printer at mid-afternoon.
What're the odds, eh?
1. Donna mentioned Soldier of the Mist and I said I longed to read a fanfic from the point of view of the AI in Person of Interest, in the period when she is figuring out how to circumvent the protocol that wipes her memory every day.
2. I mentioned Station Eleven and Jacqie said she had an aversion to post-apocalyptic traveling theater troupes doing Shakespeare, so we talked about what we'd like to see a post-apocalyptic traveling theater troupe do: they have an orchestra, why not Gilbert and Sullivan? But the most approval went to the suggestion of post-apocalyptic Rocky Horror Picture Show. There was some discussion of how the audience participation could work when you would not throw any rice or toilet paper you happened to have.
3. Someone said they were reading a book about Helen of Sparta, that is, Helen of Troy before she ran away with Paris. Stephen said he thought it was going to be a book about Helen of Troy as a Spartan warrior. Stephen says that Spartans let women train like warriors.