It has been commented upon quite extensively that there is among certain sections of the population a nostalgia for the Britain past that never was.
One of the things that is the forefront of my consciousness at the moment because of thing I am writing is a nostalgia for the futures that never happened.
All those utopian visions of various forms of nicer, kinder, fairer, cleaner, safer, all round more pleasant societies.
And, okay, one can see the problems when revisiting them, and sometimes they are not places one would really like to live though might be fine for a visit, but still -
I will take a bland 'paradise of little fat men' (Orwell on Wells: this actually strikes me as something of a mischaracterisation of Wells' utopias) over a dystopia of inequality and fears of the 'other', any day.
2. I'm still checking in on DW every few days at least to follow those who are still posting here, especially those who access lock. I might not always comment but I am reading and appreciating the insights into your lives. Thank you :)
3. As you may have seen I am handing over Growstuff to people who are better able to look after it. Sad to let it go, but glad to be letting go of the guilt about not having the mental wherewithal to deal with it. Pretty much all my old personal websites/domains are also expired/gone. I'm glad to be leaving it behind.
4. Please note username change. While I hated being forced to use my birthname, I actually like my current name, and have been using it more often online of late. Feel free to refer to me as "Alex" when talking about me in the third person. Pronouns are still "they" or "she" - either is fine, though I aim for mostly being gender neutral when refering to myself.
5. I have a new blog, Spinster's Bayley, which more or less replaces the old "Chez Skud" blog, in that it's about domestic life, but is less just "random crap that I feel like writing about" but has a bit more intent around it. I'm tossing up whether to crosspost it here - feedback welcome. If you're interested in simple/sustainable/resilient living, homegrown and homemade stuff, and subjects of that variety, go take a look.
6. I also recently started blogging at Eat Local Ballarat about locally produced food in the Ballarat region. Don't imagine it'll be of much interest to people beyond this geographic area but if you're interested in local food or relocalisation in general, take a look :) Definitely won't be crossposting that one here, but of course there's the usual collection of RSS, newsletter, and social media for those who want to follow it.
7. I would welcome suggestions of any DWs that talk about simple living, or related topics (as above). Anyone got recs?
Dave Eggars has a fairly damning report on a Trump rally in Sacramento. Damning for what it says about Trump's appeal, rather than for what Trump himself says. Interesting...
This won't convince anyone, but it's a great essay debunking a lot of the asserted reasons for hating Hillary Clinton. (Protip: it's sexism.) And again: why is Hillary being held to a standard that never appears to be applied to her male counterparts? Am I not supposed to notice that a media frenzy has been aimed at Hillary Clinton for accepting speaking fees of $225,000 while Donald Trump has been paid $1.5 MILLION on numerous occasions with hardly a word said about it? Am I supposed to not notice that we are now in an election season in which Donald Trump, a proud scam artist whose involvement in "Trump University" alone is being defined by the New York Attorney General as "straight-up fraud", is regularly calling Hillary Clinton "Crooked Hillary" and getting away with it?
This is a bit hyperbolic, but I could see at least some of it happening: The hack that could take down New York City.
This book about beauty looks really fascinating.
This is kind of a great story -- a dude rescues a baby deer.
Noted for later reading: The Guardian on the evolution of personal taste (I think).
Also wild times in Utah.
In other news, I haven't read all of this yet, but apparently there are new guidelines from Paramount for fannish Trek films? Um. If they're fan films, how can Paramount issue guidelines? (I know, I know, with the threat of lawsuits, naturally.) But really, if they fall within corporate guidelines, they're really not transformative texts anymore, they're approved derivative uses. Or so I would guess.
... and now that I've looked at the summary at Tor.com, holy cow. This is so gross. I really love the one where the fan filmmakers are forbidden to make their own props. And the one where they're required to only distribute via streaming or download -- they can't distribute on dvd/cd. (Sorry, fans in places without broadband, you're not allowed to watch fan films!)
Eh. I'm sure IP attorneys will have more sophisticated takes than I do, but this will chill any critical takes on the Trek franchise. Although I'm not sure how critical any of the fan episodes/films are -- fan films require so much more labor than fanfiction does, I don't know how far afield those folks tend to go.
In other fannishness, I finished reading League of Dragons last night. And ... I liked it. Didn't LOVE it, but it was entertaining, and resolved a lot of stuff in pretty thoughtful and creative ways. There is, in fact, one particular bit at the end where Temeraire goes to thank someone and is roundly rebuffed for his pains, that I just really appreciated. That said, I didn't love the way the narrative cut away from some of the more dramatic moments, only to tell us about them later. In fact, three of the most dramatic things to happen in the entire series are never shown, which I found... baffling?
Anyway, it was still pretty fun and I think anyone who has been sticking with the series will find the conclusion pretty sound. Stuff mostly gets resolved and you can see an interesting future ahead for most of the characters.
Memoirs by athletes who are famous in non-famous sports are often very interesting: they're not about being famous and meeting other famous people and (often) getting addicted to drugs/fame/sex, they're about what it actually feels like to do their sport. (Also, they're way more likely to be written by the athlete rather than a ghost writer.)
The best ones are usually by people whose sports involve a lot of endurance and are at least somewhat solo (rather than team sports; you're competing as much against yourself as against others.) I am very interested in physicality, people's relationships to their bodies, the mind-body connection, and pushing the limits of the mind and body, so I like that sort of thing. Especially when interesting locales are involved. People who get seriously into things like rock climbing, long-distance swimming, mountaineering, etc, tend to have mindsets that would not be out of place in a Zen temple.
Cox discovered an aptitude for cold-water, long-distance swimming as a child; she was rather hilariously inept at all other sports, and had a three-year battle with a PE teacher who hated her and kept refusing to excuse her from volleyball to do stuff like train to set the world record swimming the English Channel at age fourteen. Cox was completely self-motivated; her family supported but did not push her.
At this point she is looking for new frontiers. This is all swimming in oceans, not pools. While stymied in her hope of swimming from Alaska to the Soviet Union by 1) everyone telling her that the water is so cold that she would die in ten minutes, 2) her only landing point being a Soviet SPY BASE which they understandably did not want to let an American on to, she joins a study on cold water swimming led by Dr. William McCafferty and Dr. Barbara Drinkwater (seriously), partly to pass the time and partly in the hope that she'll learn something that will enable her to swim in water that normally kills people.
Dr. Drinkwater explains that men have less body fat, and so tend to sink. Women have more, and so tend to float. But… "You're different. You have neutral buoyancy. That means your body density is exactly the same as seawater. Your proportion of fat to muscle is perfectly balanced so you don't float or sink in the water; you're at one with the water. We've never seen anything like this before."
Cox is fascinated by this finding, which meshes with both her abilities and her sense that she is, in fact, one with sea water. But they want to see how she reacts in a natural environment, not in a lab, so Dr. McCafferty and his wife walk their dog on the beach while she does her daily workout in the ocean.
Before and after these workouts, I'd hide behind a bush and take my core temperature using a rectal thermometer, the only way to get an accurate reading after an immersion in cold water. I always made a point of telling Dr. McCafferty my temperature just as joggers were passing; they'd give him quizzical looks, since it appeared to them that he was talking to the bushes.
Swimming to Antarctica: Tales of a Long-Distance Swimmer
Paul Tateosian was just doing his job one day when this golden ball of fluff walked up to him, begging for pets. The house Paul was inspecting had been vacant for awhile, so he knew he had to take this little guy home. Paul, if you're reading this, please name your new cat "Ron Swanson". It's what the internet wants.