Game of Thrones Camp 2018

Mar. 29th, 2017 05:04 pm
wildeabandon: photo of me with wavy hair and gold lipstick (Default)
[personal profile] wildeabandon
This year I organised my first every readthrough weekend (with [livejournal.com profile] the_alchemist) of the first two seasons of Game of Thrones. It seemed to go reasonably well, so next year we'll be doing seasons three and four.

First dibs on places will go to people who came to the first one, but there'll be at least one more space, and maybe more if some people decide they can't make it. If you think it might be your kind of thing, there's a poll about interest and dates here.

New-old games

Mar. 28th, 2017 08:27 pm
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
[personal profile] liv
I took a couple of days off so I could have a four-day weekend, and didn't commit myself to excessively many social things, so I was able to spend lots of time gaming.

reviews )

Awakenings

Mar. 27th, 2017 09:25 pm
raven: (misc - inside the box)
[personal profile] raven
I am rereading Awakenings, the Oliver Sacks book about encephalitis lethargica and L-DOPA. I first came across the story as a teenager and predictably found it completely fascinating. But I bounced off the book a bit the first time, probably because I was too young for it and also it has a lot of quite boring prefaces. But this time I found it entirely compelling, prefaces and all, and have been talking about it quite a bit, so here we are.

The story in brief, for those who don't know it (and also to give me an excuse to tell it again): after the First World War, there was a worldwide outbreak of Spanish flu, which killed more people than the war did, but has mostly been forgotten. And following that - and yet more forgotten - was an epidemic of an illness later called encephalitis lethargica, also called sleepy-sickness. It was prevalent between about 1918 and 1928, and has never really been seen since (beyond isolated cases). People who got it tended to fall asleep - for weeks or months. And then, when they woke up, they were changed in some deep, indefinable way: neither asleep nor awake, but something in between. They sat motionless in chairs and stared into space. They could be "posed", their arms outstretched, like living statues. They couldn't be woken, and some of them didn't appear even to age - so forty years later some had been frozen in place for decades, still looking largely as they had in the late 1920s when initially struck down by the disease.

In 1969, the neurologist Oliver Sacks - who was one of the few clinicians with responsibility for a large number of post-encephalitic patients, about forty of them, in a hospital in New York - hit upon the idea of giving them L-DOPA, which at the time was a brand-new drug. (It's a chemical precursor to dopamine that can pass through the blood-brain barrier.) So without a great deal of knowledge of what would happen, but that something would, he started giving L-DOPA to these patients who had been out of the world for four decades.

And they woke up. This is the amazing part of the story, and Sacks writes about it like a dream: this glorious New York summer, in which these people not only woke up, and spoke, and moved, but became the people they had been. Sacks mentions one patient who had been a flapper, and the nurses going to the NYPL to look up the people and places she spoke about. He mentions another who had been a young Jewish emigrée from Vienna in the 1920s, and startled the staff because they had never known it until she spoke with an Austrian accent, and asked for a rabbi. It's just incredible to read about. And heartbreaking too, because L-DOPA turns out not to be quite the miracle that it promises. There's a honeymoon period, where Sacks and his colleagues are convinced it's just teething problems and they'll figure it out - and then the realisation that they can't stop the effect of the drug wearing off with time, or giving the patients side-effects that are too much to bear. So while some of the patients stay "awakened", others slip back into their pre-L-DOPA state, or into a coma this time. It's tragic and has an awful inevitable feel but it doesn't take on the feel of a Greek tragedy - you never lose sight of these people as real, individual human beings, not archetypes or fairy tales. I am not always convinced by Sacks' theoretical approaches, which draw a lot more from straight philosophy than I'm accustomed to seeing in a book that also purports to examine the scientific method. And it's also a book of its time and place, and a medicalised book - it doesn't always shine in a good light when considered through the lens of disability activism and theory - but Sacks is always interesting, always humane, and always interested in individuals and their stories.

The coda to this is that I hadn't really gathered, the first time I read this book, that Sacks was queer (although I was reminded of his lifelong friendship with WH Auden, which is the kind of historical congruence I love). And then [personal profile] happydork linked me to this beautiful article: My Life With Oliver Sacks, by Bill Hayes, who was Sacks' partner at the time of his death. It's one of the loveliest things I've read in ages - a snapshot of queer work, a queer life, as well as a love letter and obituary. I adore it. i've been rereading a lot of formative things just recently - all the best-beloveds of teenage crazies, so The Bell Jar and Prozac Nation - but also Slaughterhouse Five, Gender Outlaws, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail, and Wild Dreams of a New Beginning. (The last of which because I read a poem: Lawrence Ferlinghetti Is Still Alive.)

I feel like there ought to be some sort of conclusion to this thought, something about my foundering mental health, but actually I think it's just, there are always books, and that precious kinship of inquiring queers.

I made this

Mar. 26th, 2017 11:00 pm
ceb: (I made this)
[personal profile] ceb
This weekend I have made a thing! Which is neither for Worldcon nor the BSFA, unlike everything else I've been doing in the past 6 months.

moon box

What my gender dysphoria feels like

Mar. 25th, 2017 06:12 pm
sashajwolf: photo of Blake with text: "reality is a dangerous concept" (Default)
[personal profile] sashajwolf
Copying this from a comment I made on Facebook in order to have it easily accessible for future noodling. This is of course only how I experience dysphoria, not how anyone else does. The original discussion was, in part, about the extent to which dysphoria would still exist in the absence of gender stereotyping. I have made some minor edits for clarity.

I'm not "in the wrong body"; this body is very much part of me, and there are things I really like about it. But there are parts that feel stunted, like they never fully developed like they were "meant" to, and at times they ache as if they were still desperately trying to. Descriptions of phantom limbs from amputees often resonate with me. I assume this would not go away in a perfect society. It has got worse with perimenopause and seems to show some cyclical variation, so I imagine there's a hormonal factor involved.

Also, some of the parts I really like are the very ones that cause people to guess my gender wrong, and that causes a real psychological tension. I have to choose every day whether I want the cognitive dissonance of hiding those parts as if I were ashamed of them, or the cognitive dissonance of leaving them visible and being misgendered. This part would clearly improve if societal etiquette changed so that it was understood to be rude to guess someone's gender without being told, or at least rude to voice the guess.

Then there's a gender role/performative component, which expresses itself as a feeling that I'm constantly failing at "being a girl" by looking wrong, acting wrong, thinking wrong and just generally Being Wrong. This part has improved considerably since I gave myself permission to stop trying to be one, but there's a residue that would probably require societal permission to get rid of. For me, full societal recognition of nonbinary gender(s) would probably do it, but total abolition of the gender binary would also work for me (and for agender people? but maybe not for strongly binary-identified people?) Even then, there may be a biochemical component that would not disappear, because I feel the looking wrong part is linked to my bulimia, and that gets worse with certain nutritional deficiencies and could presumably still happen without sexism. Society not being so damn fat-shaming would surely help, though.

Summary: In a perfect society I'd probably still have body dysphoria and maybe a small amount of psychological discomfort. I might still define as trans because although we wouldn't be assigning gender at birth any more, I might still have self-assigned as a girl before the hormones kicked in enough for the body dysphoria to become noticeable. But I'd have much less cognitive dissonance and everyday life would be much more comfortable, so none of these issues would be the grave threats to mental health that they are now.
happydork: A graph-theoretic tree in the shape of a dog, with the caption "Tree (with bark)" (Default)
[personal profile] happydork
I have been daydreaming about f/f regency romances.

I may plausibly one day write one of these, but then again I may not. And either way, please do borrow/steal/adopt if you are so inspired — the world needs all the f/f regency fluff it can get.

The one that is really just Pride & Prejudice fanfic

Edit: FRIENDS!!! THIS ACTUALLY EXISTS!!! ~60K OF MARY/ANNE FANFIC!! I haven't read it yet, but eeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!

Edit 2: I HAVE READ IT NOW IT'S AMAZING GO READ IT YAY!


Mary, the priggish, unlovely and unloved middle daughter of five, is packed off to be the next in a long line of particular companions to her cousin-by-marriage Anne. She hopes that by her strong moral example and deep interest in scripture, she can become an inspiration and a comfort to poor sickly, ill-tempered Anne.

Chronically ill and utterly fed up Anne just wants everyone to stop fussing about her, but at least this latest nuisance is amusing — not least because of how much she annoys Anne’s mother.

Out from the hustle and bustle of her busy family, Mary finds a place to grow into herself, and learns that humility and humour are not always at odds. To her great surprise, Anne finds someone who actually listens when she talks, and may even have something worth saying in return.


The one that’s a bit my favourite Georgette Heyer set up, but also very clearly not

Stately, proper Mrs Sophia Banks, recently widowed after a not too unhappy marriage to the well-respected Reverend Banks, has always been conscious that while Caesar’s wife must be above reproach, that is far too low a standard for the daughter of an English missionary and his Yoruba wife. Her own youngest daughter is about to make an advantageous match, but a visit from a distant cousin on Sophia’s mother’s side may throw everything out of order.

Iron-willed Dowager Lady Margaret is charmed and delighted by her only son’s fiancee, Charity, the beautiful and modest youngest daughter of the Reverend and Mrs Banks, but privately worries that she is perhaps too good a match for her much indulged son, who does, after all, resemble his late father a little more than one might like. When Charity’s distant cousin, a bright young girl not at all impressed by this cold and stupid country and its cold and stupid people, comes on the scene, Lady Margaret wonders if perhaps the mistakes of one generation will not be repeated on the next.

Sophia’s hopes for Charity seem to be in direct opposition to Lady Margaret’s privileged idealism, but could their wishes for a better future and shared amusement at the vagaries of youth help them find common ground?


The one that’s In Orbit but longer, set slightly earlier, and with a bit more plot. (If you haven’t already read In Orbit, my one bijou published bit of original fic, this kind of spoils for it. Go read In Orbit first. It’s very short, and I’m still very proud of it.)

Sarah, raised by her grandfather the golem-maker, has only ever wanted to take apart the sky to see how it works. When the time comes for her to marry and continue the line, she dutifully goes to meet her grandfather’s friend’s three sons — and his one daughter, Naomi. Unbeknownst to the oldest son, she begins a correspondence with one of his tutors under his name, positing ideas about the inner workings of golems that raise questions about the nature of the universe and the structure of stars.

Naomi, fascinated by the witty, driven woman one of her brothers is to marry, begins her own preparations for adulthood. She dreams of a loud family, of love and laughter and her own secret life away from them. She can never settle on anything — not an ambition, not a husband, not a direction for her life — until somehow, without her noticing or consenting, love finds her.

Will Sarah’s academic dreams be crushed when her identity is revealed? Will Naomi pick a path and follow it the whole way? And what do the golems think of all this, if they think at all?


The one that’s a country house mystery

Sweet, good-natured Modesty is quite sure she doesn’t have an enemy in the world. Her only flaw, if indeed she has one, is that she is perhaps a little too much of a credit to her name — despite a very proper settlement from her loving uncle and not unappealing features, she has been out for three years and failed to make a match. She prides herself on seeing the best in everyone, and finding fault in no one. But during a fortnight in her uncle’s country estate she may finally meet her match in the cruel and quick-tongued wife of the internationally famed detective Mr Ghatge. Surely this wicked, heathen woman would try the patience of a saint?

Baiza and Daulat are the perfect double act. She plays the self-important fool, he the quiet genius, and together they solve crime and seduce men and women across three continents. But when they are hired to protect the naive Modesty from an unknown threat, Baiza finds herself a little more invested and a little less objective than she might wish to be. What does Modesty know that she’s not telling them? Why is her uncle so insistent that she shouldn’t find out about the Ghatges’ investigation? And would it really be so wrong to mix a little business with pleasure?

Winning, Wan Nil

Mar. 25th, 2017 12:49 am
hairyears: (Default)
[personal profile] hairyears
This is not, I think, an occasion for modesty:
https://twitmericks.com/2017/03/24/prize-limerick-competition-results/

...See if you can guess which one of the winning entries is mine.

Reading Wednesday 22/03

Mar. 22nd, 2017 10:26 pm
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
[personal profile] liv
Recently acquired:
  • Can neuroscience change our minds? by Hilary and Steven Rose. Steven Rose was a big influence on getting me into bioscience, so I'm excited to learn that he's written a new book about debunking neurobollocks, a subject close to my heart. And that he's written it in collaboration with his wife, a sociologist of science.

  • Three non-fiction books to give as belated bar mitzvah presents: I went with A history of God by Karen Armstrong, 1491 by Charles Mann, and The undercover economist by Tim Harford in the end. I reckon that gives a reasonable spread of perspectives, periods and cultures to get a curious teenager started.

  • A whole bunch of mostly novels for a not-very-sekrit plot.

Recently read:
  • This is a letter to my son by KJ Kabza, as recommended, and edited by [personal profile] rushthatspeaks. It's a near-future story about a trans girl, which has minimal overt transphobia but quite a lot of cis people being clueless, and also it's about parent death among other themes.

  • Why Lemonade is for Black women by Dominique Matti, via [personal profile] sonia. Very powerful essay about intersectionality between gender and race. I've not actually seen Lemonade yet, because everything I've read about it suggests it's a large, complex work of art which I need to set aside time to concentrate on, I can't just listen to the songs in the background. And I'm a bit intimidated by the medium of a "visual album".
Currently reading: A Journey to the end of the Millennium by AB Yehoshua. Not much progress.

Up next: I am thinking to pick up How to be both by Ali Smith, which has been on my to-read pile for a while. We'll see.
ceb: (exams)
[personal profile] ceb
FLOATING PENNYWORT WORKING PARTY ON THE UPPER CAM, SATURDAY 1ST APRIL
2017

The invasive Floating Pennywort has in recent years colonised the lower
Bourn Brook, the River Cam and some of its minor tributaries, and is
affecting an SSSI near Wicken. It is also spreading down river on the
River Ouse and has been found as far down river as the Denver Sluice.
Since 1990, when it was first found in the wild on the River Chelmer in
Essex, it has spread rapidly and each year the number of affected sites
is expanding exponentially. In high season there are long stretches of
the Cam where dense mats reach out towards the centre of the river, and
in one part it has grown from bank to bank. It is a threat to
bio-diversity, a nuisance to river users and could increase the risk of
flooding.

This week contractors for the Cam Conservators have been removing as
much as they can from the upper Cam by mechanized means, but inevitably
this will leave floating remnants and inaccessible patches. If left,
these remnants will soon grow. The Cam Valley Forum and associates are
organising a major volunteer punt day on SATURDAY 1ST APRIL ON THE UPPER
CAM, and we are inviting you to join us. The target is to remove as much
as possible on the day, from Byron’s Pool to Scudamores boat station.
Scudamores are kindly giving us ten punts for the task, which will need
a minimum crew of one experienced poler, a raker and a netter. And just
as important, we also need people on the bank to rake out easy-to-reach
Pennywort and to help with lifting out filled bins from the punts and to
dispose of the material on the bank. Not everyone feels comfortable on
a punt in which case a bank job would be ideal. Up to forty people may
be required to take this project forward and we hope that you have the
enthusiasm and time to be part of this unique experience.

If you would like to take part, or have any queries please contact Mike
Foley (Cam Valley Forum) on mfpfoley@gmail.com

We envisage a early start time between 9 – 10 am and those punts that
go the furthest (Byron’s Pool) will not necessarily be out for longer
as there is much to do in the Grantchester Meadows area. It would be
very useful if you could supply details of your experience, how long you
want to be involved, and whether your role would be on land or on water.
An indication of whether you possess a long handled rake and are
prepared to bring it would also be useful.

More detailed information will be available to those who express an
interest.

Mike Foley

Full

Mar. 21st, 2017 09:48 pm
liv: Table laid with teapot, scones and accoutrements (yum)
[personal profile] liv
So this weekend I went to two synagogue services (in two different cities) and one church service, and I had a quiet going out for lunch and talking date with [personal profile] cjwatson and a bouncy metal gig date with Ghoti. And went to the cinema to see Beauty and the Beast and just about managed to squeeze in a little bit of time talking to [personal profile] jack. Um, it is hypothetically possible that I may have over-scheduled myself a bit.

I had fun, though )

Photobucket

Mar. 17th, 2017 02:41 pm
karzilla: a green fist above the word SMASH! (Default)
[staff profile] karzilla in [site community profile] dw_maintenance
Thanks to everyone who let us know that Photobucket images were not loading properly on some pages. The problem seemed to be mostly limited to HTTPS requests; Dreamwidth maintains a list of known high-traffic image sites that support HTTPS, so that our secure content proxy service doesn't cache them unnecessarily. Unfortunately Photobucket seems to have recently changed their site configuration such that HTTPS requests aren't being served as expected, and we've now taken it out of our list of "proxy-exempt" sites.

If you continue to have issues, make sure you're not using HTTPS Photobucket links. It's a bit counterintuitive, but if you use HTTP instead, it will be automatically transformed on our end to an HTTPS link that uses p.dreamwidth.org.

Hope that clears everything up for now! Let us know if it doesn't...

(no subject)

Mar. 17th, 2017 09:24 am
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
[personal profile] synecdochic
Doc thinks the abdominal pain/bloody urine is due to a UTI (not a bladder/kidney stone) and is sending me over to pee in a cup at the lab! Whee.

Cats!

Mar. 16th, 2017 11:24 pm
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
[personal profile] synecdochic
I also realized I had not introduced you all to the new feline occupant of the house!

Meet Thea:

Thea lounging on the vet counter, fresh out of fucks to give

So, [personal profile] without_me retweeted a tweet a friend of hers had made, looking for a new home for a friendly former-feral whose human had died and who was living on the streets being intermittently fed by the neighbor. [twitter.com profile] detachment_red hadn't been involved in that, but was looking for a new home for her, since the neighbor apparently wanted to stop feeding the cat and was going to just leave her roaming the neighborhood. (Special place in hell, etc.) Alas, she already had a cat who needs to be an only! So, to Twitter she turned.

Sarah and I had agreed that after losing our three boys in the space of a year, and since Ginny, Ruth, and Naomi had settled down into a comfortable balance, we weren't looking for another cat, but fortunately, Sarah understands that sometimes Twitter just hands you a cat. ([personal profile] without_me has confirmed that she specifically RT'd it because she knew I'd see it. It's like I'm a well known sucker or something.) We picked up the cat the next day and took her straight up to the vet's, where she promptly (and accurately) identified us as suckers and got a head start on the snuggles:

Thea crawls into my lap during her first vet visit

This is less than an hour after we met her, btw. I'm just saying. It's important that you allow a new cat to acclimate to you in her own time and don't force your attentions on them. entirely too many cat pictures )

We're not yet seriously going to start worrying about her inability to get along with Ginny/Ruth/Naomi (who have all been curious but very well behaved about the strange cat in the house) or her tendency to charge at the door whenever she sees/hears one of the others on the other side of it. Our current hope is that the pain from the teeth fuckery is affecting her temperament and she'll mellow the fuck out once we get the teeth treated. She's sweet as hell to humans (occasional nip aside, and we've got that mostly trained out of her by now), at least, barring the time she was charging at Ginny and Sarah got in the way and got clawed to shit for it. ("I swear I'm not self-harming," she had to tell the new doctor she was seeing this week. "We just adopted a new cat. Which can be kind of like a form of self harm, if you think about it...wait, it was my wife's idea, I guess that makes it domestic abuse.") All she wants to do is be in your lap! Until she gets tired of being petted and bites you instead of jumping down and walking away, heh.

Her name with her last human was Missy, but we didn't think it suited; after a week or so of trying everything under the sun, we settled on Thea.

I really, really hope we can mellow her out enough to keep her, and that it's not a case of "must be the only cat in the household"! I mean, come on, look at this fucking adorable sweetheart of a face:

Thea, sacked out in my lap (and snoring)

(If she does turn out to need to be an only, I'm going to try to talk my mom into taking her -- Mom's been missing having a cat lately since their last one died last year -- but if I can't convince her, I may put out the call to see if anyone can give this precious baby a home where she'd be the only cat. But that's borrowing trouble at this point! There was sniffing through the cracked door today and only a little attempted murder...)

mutter mutter mutter

Mar. 16th, 2017 10:16 pm
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
[personal profile] synecdochic
"Fucking bodies" TMI muttering behind the cut )

Oh, and for those who follow me on Twitter ([twitter.com profile] rahaeli) and saw me marveling about how my e-chart showed a call to my specialist Friday morning post-surgery, after which I suddenly got better pain meds (read: actual pain meds, not "barely the level of pain meds I take on a daily basis"): I had the monthly visit with the specialist yesterday, and asked about it! Turns out they did not actually call down to verify with her that I wasn't a drugseeking addict, after all: the call was actually Thursday afternoon, not Friday morning when I was happening to the nurse over pain management.

What it actually was, though, is not necessarily more reassuring: it was the anesthesiologist calling her to find out what CYP2D6 ultra-rapid metabolism was. (The call notes apparently included the phrase "when we called back, he said he had already found information on Google".) CYP2D6, for those who don't know, is the liver enzyme that processes a large number of the drugs we use in modern medicine; it's produced by a cytochrome in the liver that has high variability in populations, and some people produce none of the enzyme and some people produce a whole lot of it. (I produce a whole lot of it.) My particular mutation means that I process most drugs very fucking quickly, and require very high dosages of anything that's metabolized by CYP2D6 and weird dose schedules for anything where it's the metabolite that actually has an effect, rather than the substance itself.

Something like 25% of the drugs we use in modern medicine are processed by CYP2D6, including pretty much every drug used in anesthesia, and while there's very wide phenotypical variation among populations and racial groups, estimates range anywhere from 20% to 40% of the population has some non-standard expression of the genes that code for it. It is the sort of thing an anesthesiologist ought to consider basic fucking fundamental knowledge, basically, and this dude had no fucking clue what I was talking about. Like, the last time I went for surgery, I specifically asked the anesthesiologist (who'd also done the surgery before that and managed to get it perfect) what I should tell future anesthesiologists to make sure that shit got handled, and she said "oh, just tell them you're a 2D6 ultra-rapid metabolizer, that'll be enough for anyone."

(No, it's not just that I was using the wrong vocabulary. I tried a few different ways of explaining it.)

But hey, I didn't wake up on the table and I did wake up once I was in recovery, so I guess it all worked out in the end. (Definitely asking for a different anesthesiologist if I have surgery at that hospital again, though, oi.)

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