Attainable measure of peace

Sep. 25th, 2017 10:40 am
pjthompson: quotes (quotei)
[personal profile] pjthompson

Random quote of the day:

“A human being is a part of the whole, called by us “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. The striving to free oneself from this delusion is the one issue of true religion. Not to nourish the delusion but to try to overcome it is the way to reach the attainable measure of peace of mind.

—Albert Einstein, letter of condolence to Robert S. Marcus, February 2, 1950

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Lucy and Ethel, Justin Bieber, or the Kardashian Klan. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Mirrored from Better Than Dead.

No, really?

Sep. 25th, 2017 01:56 pm
oursin: The stylised map of the London Underground, overwritten with Tired of London? Tired of Life! (Tired of London? Tired of Life!)
[personal profile] oursin

Dept of, did you do any research?

That Uber vs TfL thing, with TfL refusing to renew their license - okay, I do not use Uber (I am probably not their target market) and everything I hear about it makes me deeply suspicious - but when I read various articles claiming that London black cab drivers are the trad white working class, I wonder how often, if ever, any of these people have ridden in a black cab. Because in my limited and anecdotal experience, finding a Trad London Cabbie who will give you his Salty Cockney Opinions whether you want him to or not, is not the default at all.

This article about Some Artist's exhibition on what he calls 'pseudo-Georgian architecture' in the UK and dates to the 1970s.

Marvel at a London Waitrose – “the pearl of Holloway Road”, according to Bronstein’s caption – with a cupola-crowned tower floating above its entrance. That oddly proportioned line of columns, running above the shopfront windows, suggest the architect once glimpsed a photograph of Vicenza, but not for long enough.
I know that Waitrose and shop there regularly and I am old enough to remember when it was Jones Brothers, by that time part of the John Lewis Partnership, but dating from an era when suburban department stores were built as retail palaces - as far as I can see, dates back to the 1890s.

***

Dept of, is that really the solution? PETA co-founder says we should stop wearing wool. I cannot help feeling that if there is no longer any economic reason for rearing, even if 'sheep are so gentle, they’re so dear!' they are likely to vanish from the face of the earth except in zoos (to which I imagine PETA are also opposed). Might not doing something about introducing legislation for more humane shearing practices be a better use of their time and energies?

Baaaaack

Sep. 24th, 2017 09:39 pm
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin

As our flight was not until after lunch, this morning after we'd packed and put our luggage in store we went to the Hipolit House: more historical domestic interiors, plus exhibition on the actress Antonina Hoffman and on theatre/acting more generally in C19th. Rather interesting.

Of the journey, not a great deal to be said except for the enormous distances walked within airports.

Anyway, ome agen.

Reading: Autumn

Sep. 24th, 2017 06:19 pm
white_hart: (Default)
[personal profile] white_hart
I bought a copy of Ali Smith's Autumn in the Oxfam bookshop in York last week, because they were playing Leonard Cohen and I ended up browsing the contemporary fiction section much more closely than I often do because I wanted to keep listening to it. It was the day the Booker shortlist had been announced so someone had been talking about the book on the radio as I was driving up; it sounded interesting so I thought I might as well buy it when I saw a copy there.

It's a strange book. Essentially, it's the story of a friendship between an elderly man and little girl, growing and developing across the space of years, but it's also a complicated web of allusions through which Smith considers questions of time, memory, love and art; key influences are Dickens (the opening sentence is "It was the worst of times, it was the worst of times") and Ovid's Metamorphoses although there are many others. Its time-hopping, non-linear format jumps between the aftermath of the Brexit vote (the novel was published last October and it was clearly written, fast, after the referendum), the 1990s, the Profumo scandal of the 1960s and World War 2 and the years immediately preceding it. It's funny and thought-provoking, melancholy and angry and also somehow hopeful. And the prose is beautiful and poetic. It's a short book, and a quick read, but I think it will stay with me.

Reading: St Mungo's Robin

Sep. 24th, 2017 10:23 am
white_hart: (Default)
[personal profile] white_hart
I wasn't quite ready to get my head out of fifteenth-century Scotland after finishing Gemini, so I thought I'd read the fourth of Pat McIntosh's Gil Cunningham mysteries. Set in Glasgow, about ten years after the end of Gemini, these books feel a bit like a extension of the world of the Niccolò series; some of the same historical characters appear in both and I like to imagine Dunnett's characters living their lives just off-screen. (Accidentally or on purpose, there are also a couple of cases where character names and nicknames end up being minor spoilers for points in Dunnett where knowing a character's full name rather than just their nickname would have given too much away, so if you're reading your way through Dunnett and care about remaining unspoilered I'd recommend leaving McIntosh until afterwards; I also enjoy McIntosh more for having read all of the Niccolò books now and understanding the historical background.)

In this book, Gil (now officially charged with investigating murders, after his earlier successes on an amateur basis) is called to a Glasgow almshouse where the unpopular Deacon has been found stabbed with no shortage of people who might have had a motive to kill him. He's also due to be married in a week's time and his investigations are both helped and hindered by family and friends arriving in town for the wedding, while he and his fiancée, Alys, are both suffering from pre-wedding nerves.

I enjoyed this a lot - the series really seems to be hitting its stride by this stage, with the core characters established enough to feel like old friends now; Gil's investigations manage not to feel out of place in the historical setting while still allowing him to do things like estimate times of death from the condition of a corpse. I did spot a couple of clues well ahead of Gil, and had worked out the identity of the murderer by about two-thirds of the way through the book, but then it's always nice to feel cleverer than the detective!

I thought it was September

Sep. 23rd, 2017 07:14 pm
chickenfeet: (canada)
[personal profile] chickenfeet
So the Humidex is heading towards 40 tomorrow. It was almost as hot today. After a week of Scottish 10C and on and off rain this is a bit hard to take but better than an early winter I guess.

The rain hath rainedeth every day

Sep. 23rd, 2017 05:03 pm
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin

But nonetheless there has been sightseeing.

I already mentioned Rynek Underground.

The Mehoffer House, which is an artist's house, pehaps more interesting for the interiors than the art, but with an ace cafe, the Meho Cafe.

The National Museum - there are lots of branches, we went to the main building, which seemed mostly arts and crafts + the Lady with the Ermine.

There is probably more to see than we saw at Wawel Hill, but we did the State Rooms and the Royal Private Apartments of the Royal Palace, and the cathedral. Must remark that dwelling in marble halls, or at least spending several hours walking/standing on floors of that substance, does my lower back thing no favours.

We did an organised tour to the Wieliczka Salt Mine: very impressive. (Much more spectacular than the one in Cheshire which is now an archive store.)

Today we went to Kazimierz, which on reflection, was not, being Saturday, the ideal day to do so - had intended going earlier in the week but ran out of time/energy.

There have also been visits to a number of churches, which after a while tend to run together - lotsa baroque.

(no subject)

Sep. 23rd, 2017 04:45 pm
tree_and_leaf: Isolated tree in leaf, against blue sky. (Default)
[personal profile] tree_and_leaf
Belated happy birthday, [personal profile] nanila!

Underground again

Sep. 22nd, 2017 09:51 pm
oursin: Sleeping hedgehog (sleepy hedgehog)
[personal profile] oursin

Which, given the weather - today was persistent drizzle rather than yesterday's chucking it relentlessly down - was a good idea. Salt mine, to be precise.

However, has been a long day - only just in from a Mahler concert - so any more detailed reports on touristic activities may follow at some later season.

A house for words

Sep. 22nd, 2017 10:15 am
pjthompson: quotes (quotei)
[personal profile] pjthompson

Random quote of the day:

“I suppose I think of the notebook as a house for words, as a secret place for thought and self-examination.

—Paul Auster, The Paris Review, No. 167, Fall 2003

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Lucy and Ethel, Justin Bieber, or the Kardashian Klan. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Mirrored from Better Than Dead.

(no subject)

Sep. 22nd, 2017 07:37 am
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] jenett, [personal profile] matociquala and [personal profile] nanila!
navaan: (Public Call Mod)
[personal profile] navaan posting in [community profile] doctorwho


Schedule:
Nominations: 18th September - 1st October
Sign-ups: 4th - 18th October
Assignments: sent by 20th October
Deadline: 26th November
Posting period: starting 1st December

Description:
[community profile] public_call is a secret santa fic exchange for Doctor Who and its various related fandoms, run through LJ/DW and AO3. Participants sign up to write a story of at least 1,000 words involving a relationship between two or more characters someone else has requested. In return, they receive a story of at least 1,000 words with a relationship they have requested.

Nominations now open

They must be told

Sep. 21st, 2017 12:26 pm
pjthompson: quotes (quotei)
[personal profile] pjthompson

Random quote of the day:

“Stories have to be told or they die, and when they die, we can’t remember who we are or why we’re here.

—Sue Monk Kidd, The Secret Life of Bees

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Lucy and Ethel, Justin Bieber, or the Kardashian Klan. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Mirrored from Better Than Dead.

Oh dearie me, this guy's got form

Sep. 21st, 2017 08:41 pm
oursin: Cod with aghast expression (kepler codfish)
[personal profile] oursin

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?)

(no subject)

Sep. 21st, 2017 08:49 am
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] italiceyeball!

Down Portalville Way – Chaos

Sep. 20th, 2017 04:25 pm
pjthompson: (bigfoot)
[personal profile] pjthompson

1. Let me thread you a story…(1-30)
2. Mayor Begay has been in office for some time now. We like the job he does and the way he cares for all the people of Portalville.
3. Weren’t always that way. We had us a mayor before who caused nothing but hard feelings and chaos. Mayor Covfefe.
4. As I’ve said before, folks in Portalville are generally accepting of everybody, but even good folks get scared sometimes.
5. If you’ve got an unscrupulous sumbich who likes chaos and playing on people’s fears it’s sometimes hard to break through the stramash,
6. and get people thinking sensibly once more. Mayor Covfefe was one of those sorts. Took over the City Council with his pack of yes men,
7. forcing agendas on the town nobody really liked but were too scared to oppose. Nobody trusted anybody else, see, and figured everyone
8. was out to get them, so no one wanted to listen to what others said without starting a yelling match.
9. So much screaming in the extremes when most folks just wanted to negotiate some peace that the City Council ground to a halt.
10. Weren’t no business getting done, or only what business lined the pockets of Mayor Covfefe and his cronies.
11. They tried to shred every principle we held dear here in Portalville, violating city by-laws like confetti.
12. Pretty soon folks was yelling at each other over every tiny thing that came along and forming parties of folk yelling in the same key.
13. We had us the Portalville League of Lawyers threatening to file suit over anyone who didn’t agree with them.
14. Fortunately, they mostly couldn’t agree with each other so their suits went nowhere or were easily dismissed by Judge Mathead.
15. Then we had us the Portalville League of Opposition. They didn’t really have a point of view except that they were in opposition…
16. to everyone else in town. “What are you opposing?” people would ask. “What have you got?” they’d answer.
17. The Portalville League of Witches got so fed up they put reversal spells on half the town. So many folks walked around
18. with heads on backwards they didn’t know if they was coming or going & got a much closer look at bodily functions than they ever wanted.
19. Finally, Sherman Begay, the town shoemaker, had enough. He formed the Portalville League of the Beleaguered to try to reassert sense.
20. Bar-Bar Shumay was one of the first to join, followed by Madame Mosibelle Nimby and her son Rupert.
21. They held giant clear-seeing resistance rallies where everyone who showed up got the scales lifted from their eyes.
22. Pretty soon, folks saw that Mayor Covfefe was a minor god of chaos, although no god of chaos is ever truly minor.
23. His magic had scared folks into going against their better nature, against what they knew was right.
24. (Then again, some folks ain’t got better natures and think right is only what is right for them. Even the most powerful magic
25. can’t do nothing to heal that kind of perversion. What’s required to fight them folks is a really big stick.)
26. Fear is a great motivator, but I got to believe love is, too. Once Sherman Begay, & Bar-Bar, & the Nimbys broke through the shouting,
27. let people see the truth, most folks came around. They realized that loving your neighbor wasn’t just a passel of pretty-sounding words.
28. It’s a way forward, a commitment to doing what’s right for the whole community.
29. Folks decided that they’d rather live in harmony than have their own way in every tiny thing. Compromise became a holy tenet.
30. Come next election, Mayor Covfefe lost by a landslide. And that’s how the new mayor, Sherman Begay the shoemaker, saved our souls.

This tale can also be found on Twitter @downportalville.

Mirrored from Better Than Dead.

Reading: Gemini

Sep. 20th, 2017 09:18 pm
white_hart: (Default)
[personal profile] white_hart
In the final book in Dorothy Dunnett's House of Niccolò series, Nicholas de Fleury returns to Scotland to try to make amends for the damage caused by his earlier actions and to safeguard his family from the enemies who have tried to kill both him and them so many times. For a while, I thought that Gemini was going to be a bit of an anticlimax to the series; several plot threads were resolved at the end of Caprice and Rondo, and Gemini is almost entirely set in Scotland, lacking the exotic locations of the earlier books. Nicholas has also changed and grown, and in Gemini is tackling the task of learning to care for people, and not just for the outcomes of his schemes. However, after a slow start, the novel gathers pace and the psychological drama is more than a match for the drama of any of Dunnett's other novels; there were just as many twists and edge-of-the-seat moments, and I found it just as hard to put down. It's a fitting end to the series, and like the ending of Checkmate leaves me wanting to go back and re-read key moments from earlier in the series in the light of the final revelations.

Fittingly, having started reading The Game of Kings on my 40th-birthday trip to Scotland, because I wanted to read something set in Scotland while I was there, I read Gemini while on holiday in Scotland once again. Three and a bit years, 14 books, at least 7,000 pages and an amazing sweep of European and Middle Eastern history in the early modern and late Middle Ages later, I can safely say that it has been one of the most intense reading experiences I've ever had. I can't actually remember who it was who made Dunnett sound intriguing enough for me to give her a try (I suspect it may have been a gestalt entity of friends and acquaintances), but it's been incredible, and in many ways I'm sorry to have come to the end. (I do still have King Hereafter to read, and will probably give the Johnson Johnson novels a try at least, but neither is going to be the same.)

Wednesday went underground*

Sep. 20th, 2017 09:19 pm
oursin: Photograph of small impressionistic metal figurine seated reading a book (Reader)
[personal profile] oursin

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 [personal profile] 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.

Up Next

Dunno.

*Among other sights seen today, Rynek Underground.

The deep within

Sep. 20th, 2017 10:40 am
pjthompson: quotes (quotei)
[personal profile] pjthompson

Random quote of the day:

“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

—Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Lucy and Ethel, Justin Bieber, or the Kardashian Klan. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Mirrored from Better Than Dead.

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